reference

noun
ref·​er·​ence | \ ˈre-fərn(t)s, ˈre-f(ə-)rən(t)s\

Definition of reference

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : the act of referring or consulting
2 : a bearing on a matter : relation in reference to your recent letter
3 : something that refers: such as
b : something (such as a sign or indication) that refers a reader or consulter to another source of information (such as a book or passage)
c : consultation of sources of information
4 : one referred to or consulted: such as
a : a person to whom inquiries as to character or ability can be made
b : a statement of the qualifications of a person seeking employment or appointment given by someone familiar with the person
c(1) : a source of information (such as a book or passage) to which a reader or consulter is referred
(2) : a work (such as a dictionary or encyclopedia) containing useful facts or information

reference

adjective

Definition of reference (Entry 2 of 3)

: used or usable for reference especially : constituting a standard for measuring or constructing

reference

verb
referenced; referencing

Definition of reference (Entry 3 of 3)

transitive verb

1a : to supply with references
b : to cite in or as a reference
2 : to put in a form (such as a table) adapted to easy reference

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Synonyms for reference

Synonyms: Noun

authority, source

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Examples of reference in a Sentence

Noun

references to an earlier event The numbers were calculated by reference to the most recent census. Reference to a map will make the position clear. She listed her former teacher as a reference when she applied for the job. Her former teacher gave her a reference when she applied for the job. Her teacher gave her a letter of reference.

Adjective

a list of reference materials

Verb

The book references many other authors who have written on this topic.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

There’s even no longer a luggage price matrix to reference on Spirit’s website because there are too many variables on an individual’s flight itinerary that must be calculated. Kristen Leigh Painter, Condé Nast Traveler, "How Air Travel Will Change in 2019," 13 Dec. 2018 These learned essays, heaving with historical and literary references, are not for the faint of heart. Laura Auricchio, WSJ, "‘The Republic of Letters’ Review: A Network of Open Minds," 25 Dec. 2018 Scenes involving dismemberment have also been toned down, and gone are any explicit references to drugs (though some of the edits are definitely a bit tongue in cheek). Tracy Brown, The Seattle Times, "How ‘Once Upon a Deadpool’ is different from ‘Deadpool 2,’ besides PG-13 rating," 12 Dec. 2018 They were filled with hilarious costumes, pop-culture references, and lots of pranks. Megan Friedman, Good Housekeeping, "‘The Conners’ Just Gave a Sneak Peek of Its Halloween Episode," 26 Oct. 2018 Rather than fill the void with social media’s continuous self-reference, children and adults alike sat still without the repeat validation of the smartphone swipe. Laura Dannen Redman, Condé Nast Traveler, "18 Summers: The Ultimate Guide to Not Wasting a Single Vacation With Your Kids," 20 July 2018 Per People, the new romantic ballad may actually be a reference to John Lennon's song of the same title. Katherine J. Igoe, Marie Claire, "Ariana Grande Teased Her New Song in the Most Brilliant Way," 14 Dec. 2018 So where our strategic partners [Editor's note: This is a reference to Blue Origin] brought investment as well as schedule, that was a pretty important factor. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "ULA chief Tory Bruno on competing with Blue Origin, SpaceX rocket landings," 12 Dec. 2018 The targets are silhouettes of other children, likely a reference to recent school shootings. Tamara Fuentes, Seventeen, "13 Hidden Easter Eggs in Miley Cyrus' New 'Nothing Breaks Like a Heart' Music Video That’ll Give You Chills," 30 Nov. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Her Reputation era has been marked by snake imagery on her costumes and in her music videos, referencing her feud with Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. Halie Lesavage, Glamour, "Taylor Swift Fans Are Convinced That Her New Music Will Be About Mermaids," 3 Jan. 2019 In 2016, the source that Trump may have been referencing was a report by the Federation for American Immigration Reform, an organization that supports restrictions on immigration. Jane Coaston, Vox, "Trump now says the US loses $200 billion on illegal immigration every year. That’s not true.," 18 Dec. 2018 The abduction that Chris referenced happened just last month, leaving Barron's 3,400 residents on edge. Kelly O'sullivan, Country Living, "The Heartbreaking Reason 'The Voice' Star Chris Kroeze Dedicated His Performance to His Town," 20 Nov. 2018 Police departments are already scanning crowds and protests to find and arrest people with outstanding warrants by cross referencing footage with social media profiles. Diana Budds, Curbed, "Facial recognition is becoming one of the 21st century’s biggest public space issues," 19 Oct. 2018 One family learned this lesson the hard way, Meier adds, referencing an 1862 incident in which children from an east London home died after ingesting pigments found on the family’s wallpaper. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "Arsenic-Laced Books Discovered in University Library," 3 July 2018 White is the New Black.’ While the shirt may reference the popular Netflix series, Orange is the New Black, or hint at a new fashion trend; some customers were outraged at the racial undertones associated with the graphic tee. Carson Kessler, Fortune, "Melania Trump's Jacket Is Just the Controversial Clothing by Zara. Here's a Timeline of the Rest," 22 June 2018 As a more formal introduction, the original Ghost chair was officially named the Louis Ghost Chair, referencing another famous piece of furniture, the Louis XVI Chair. Maggie Burch, House Beautiful, "Why The Transparent Plastic Ghost Chair Is An Icon Of Modern Furniture Design," 14 Nov. 2018 The series references the Purple March that happened in 1989 — anti-apartheid protesters were sprayed with purple dye for later recognition. Sadé Carpenter, RedEye Chicago, "'In Their Own Form' photography exhibition spotlights vision of Afrofuturism," 11 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'reference.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of reference

Noun

1579, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

1856, in the meaning defined above

Verb

1876, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Statistics for reference

Last Updated

16 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for reference

The first known use of reference was in 1579

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More Definitions for reference

reference

noun

English Language Learners Definition of reference

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: the act of mentioning something in speech or in writing : the act of referring to something or someone

: the act of looking at or in something for information

: a person who can be asked for information about another person's character, abilities, etc.

reference

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of reference (Entry 2 of 3)

: used to find information about something

: used to tell people where information can be found

reference

verb

English Language Learners Definition of reference (Entry 3 of 3)

: to mention (something or someone) in speech or in writing : to refer to (something or someone)

reference

noun
ref·​er·​ence | \ ˈre-fə-rəns, ˈref-rəns\

Kids Definition of reference

1 : the act of looking at or in something for information Reference to a map will make our location clear.
2 : a relation to or concern with something I am writing in reference to your advertisement.
3 : the act or an instance of mentioning They made no references to my error.
4 : a work (as a dictionary) that contains useful information
5 : something that refers a reader to another source of information
6 : a person who can be asked for information about another person's character or ability
7 : a written statement about someone's character or ability

reference

adjective
ref·​er·​ence | \ ˈref-(ə-)rən(t)s \

Medical Definition of reference

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: of known potency and used as a standard in the biological assay of a sample of the same drug of unknown strength a dose of reference cod-liver oil

reference

Medical Definition of reference (Entry 2 of 2)

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reference

noun
ref·​er·​ence | \ ˈre-frəns, -fə-rəns \

Legal Definition of reference

1 : an act of referring specifically : mention or citation of one document (as a statute) in another a municipality may adopt by reference all or a part of this title Alaska Statutes — see also incorporate
2 : a referral especially to a legislative committee or master also : an order referring a matter to a master the extent to which any party is more responsible than other parties for the reference to a master Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 53(g)

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Comments on reference

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a complex dispute or argument

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