ref·​er·​ent | \ ˈre-f(ə-)rənt How to pronounce referent (audio) \

Definition of referent

: one that refers or is referred to especially : the thing that a symbol (such as a word or sign) stands for

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Other Words from referent

referent adjective

Examples of referent in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The other half is constructed with the memories, longing, referents, et cetera, of the readers’ lives. Kathleen Rooney,, "In ‘The Divers’ Game,’ Jesse Ball imagines a world where an upper class can slaughter the lower class at will. It’s an act of ‘resistance to the America I was born into.’," 8 Oct. 2019 Even Robert De Niro is here, a direct referent to Scorsese-land, as Murray Franklin, the genially corrupt host of the late-night talk show that Arthur watches with his shut-in mother (Frances Conroy) and dreams of appearing on., "Most read on," 3 Oct. 2019 And there needs to be a clearer referent in the present. Chris Jones,, "A fun party, but 'Ms. Blakk for President' at Steppenwolf needs a dose of Chicago truth," 4 June 2019 There are hundreds of millions of people who understand this tweet, and understood its referents on every other social platform in 2018. Kaitlyn Tiffany, Vox, "The internet is a monoculture built on ads and Drake," 20 Dec. 2018 Framing is an opportunity to break the tremendous power of the image in relation to its referent. Ben Sachs, Chicago Reader, "An interview with Lucrecia Martel, Argentina's greatest filmmaker," 16 Apr. 2018 This is very unlikely to happen in the sonic dimension, because sound is ambiguous in respect with its referent. Ben Sachs, Chicago Reader, "An interview with Lucrecia Martel, Argentina's greatest filmmaker," 16 Apr. 2018 Though Cortini is best known as an occasional keyboardist with Nine Inch Nails, that band’s sound has virtually nothing to do with his solo work, which is the closest referent to his King tribute. Corey Seymour, Vogue, "The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute You Need to Hear Today," 4 Apr. 2018 That black Americans have a month set aside to honor them — outside of a white lens that has often framed them as criminal, negligent, or unworthy of historical referent — isn’t racist against anyone. Jenn M. Jackson, Teen Vogue, "Black History Month Isn't Racist, It's a Form of Reparations," 6 Feb. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'referent.' 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 referent

1844, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for referent

Latin referent-, referens, present participle of referre

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Time Traveler for referent

Time Traveler

The first known use of referent was in 1844

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Cite this Entry

“Referent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Mar. 2021.

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Britannica English: Translation of referent for Arabic Speakers

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