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

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 Too many college students were never taught the basic referents of liberal education. Victor Davis Hanson, The Mercury News, "Hanson: Universities have lost respect of most Americans," 4 May 2017 Mr. Diehl’s clearest referents are the swinging hard-bop pianists John Lewis and Cedar Walton. New York Times, "Pop, Rock and Jazz in NYC This Week," 20 Apr. 2017

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

The first known use of referent was in 1844

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More from Merriam-Webster on referent

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with referent

Britannica English: Translation of referent for Arabic Speakers

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