reference

noun
ref·​er·​ence | \ ˈre-fərn(t)s How to pronounce reference (audio) , 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

Some of these references have been more direct than others. Glamour, "We Need to Talk About Lupita Nyong'o's Us Promo Looks," 28 Mar. 2019 The whole thing is chock full of references to The Favourite and the royal family, turning what could have been a standard pop video into a must-watch cultural happening. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "The Jonas Brothers's New Music Video Is Inspired By The Favourite and the Royal Family," 1 Mar. 2019 The yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note, a reference for borrowing costs on everything from mortgages to corporate debt, settled at 2.537%, unchanged from Wednesday, which are the lowest closes since Jan. 11, 2018. Daniel Kruger, WSJ, "Bond Yields, Bank Stocks Sink as Cautious Fed Worries Investors," 21 Mar. 2019 The line is sophisticated, but has a uncontrived spirit that plays on masculine, feminine, and historical references. Marina Liao, Marie Claire, "Miu Miu's Fall '19 Show Is Almost Here, and You Can Stream It Live," 5 Mar. 2019 Watch it in full below, and savor every royal reference. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "The Jonas Brothers's New Music Video Is Inspired By The Favourite and the Royal Family," 1 Mar. 2019 The question of sperm in precum usually comes up in reference to the pull-out method, also known as the withdrawal method (and coitus interruptus—sounds like a dinosaur, but OK). Kasandra Brabaw, SELF, "Can You Get Pregnant From Precum?," 7 Mar. 2019 There was a time, circa 2009, when no home design story could do without a reference to Mad Men. Curbed, "Critical Eye: A year in review," 20 Dec. 2018 Black’s son being involved may help explain certain aspects of the video, including references to multiple inside jokes PewDiePie fans would understand (such as the chair Black is sitting on). Julia Alexander, The Verge, "Jack Black is launching a new YouTube channel mostly dedicated to gaming," 26 Dec. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The letter didn’t reference the tax measure, but noted that Apple was committed to partnering with the city on solutions to the area’s growing traffic congestion. Nour Malas, WSJ, "Cupertino City Council Balks at New Tax After Apple Objects," 1 Aug. 2018 The court said school districts were not referenced specifically in the law. Elizabeth Zwirz, Fox News, "Michigan schools can prohibit guests with guns, state’s Supreme Court rules," 27 July 2018 The Rabbit's time in a performing group has been continually referenced throughout the duration of the show. Heather Finn, Good Housekeeping, "There's No Question That Joey Fatone Is the Rabbit on 'The Masked Singer'," 17 Feb. 2019 The show references the contestants joining them in LA, but the mansion is actually located in Agoura Hills, a city in Los Angeles county. Sienna Fantozzi, House Beautiful, "Everything You Need To Know About The Bachelor Mansion," 14 Nov. 2018 Studio 54 is constantly referenced as the pinnacle of nightlife. Adam Rathe, Town & Country, "Ian Schrager Opens Up For the First Time About What Really Happened at Studio 54," 3 Oct. 2018 This one comes from Whiskey__Gamer who references the moment in season two episode 18 when Hal brings Alice and Betty peonies on the opening night of Carrie. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "These "Riverdale" Season 3 Fan Theories Are So Crazy They Might Actually Be True," 24 Sep. 2018 In the last 17 years of the Showdown, ticket prices have only been raised one dollar, Gamble said, referencing the 21 Showdown posters hanging in his office. Adam Baum, Cincinnati.com, "Why Cincinnati was and still is the perfect place for the Crosstown Showdown," 10 July 2018 Noah said, referencing Trump’s inauguration crowd size scandal from the start of his presidency. Nick Vadala, Philly.com, "Late night shows slam Trump over canceled Eagles White House visit," 6 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

10 Apr 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 How to pronounce reference (audio) , 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 How to pronounce reference (audio) \

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 How to pronounce reference (audio) \

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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