ref·​er·​en·​tial ˌre-fə-ˈren(t)-shəl How to pronounce referential (audio)
: of, containing, or constituting a reference
especially : pointing to or involving a referent
referential language
referential meaning
referentially adverb

Examples of referential in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Her sequined halter gown—featuring referential detailing, from polo collar to racket motif to mesh pleated panels—was an all-out ode to tennis, one furthered by her exaggerated take on the court-ready pony. Calin Van Paris, Vogue, 10 Apr. 2024 This discovery significantly deepens our understanding of how dogs process human language and suggests that the capacity for referential understanding of words might not be unique to humans. Scott Travers, Forbes, 29 Mar. 2024 Watching these movies a full 50 years after her passing, what sticks out is Darling’s performance style, which was so directly and knowingly referential to Old Hollywood’s studio stars. Mayukh Sen, The Atlantic, 9 Apr. 2024 Both are thoroughly referential and impressively informed (a conversation with them can hop from Belgian tapestries to Cecil Beaton by way of Yes Minister in a matter of moments). Grace McCloud, Vogue, 21 Nov. 2023 Tamar-kali’s score — which draws on beatboxing, body percussion, Hebrew worship music, and African American spirituals along with its operatic influences — feels busy and referential but also frequently monotonous, too full of reverence to find much lift or drive. Sara Holdren, Vulture, 8 Nov. 2023 And, as has often been the case, there’s a distinctly referential quality to Brittany’s work here. Lauren Puckett-Pope, ELLE, 8 Sep. 2023 But what about formal objects that were referential — to their own making and maybe even to the body? Kate Guadagnino, New York Times, 25 Sep. 2023 Producing eight of the mixtape’s 12 songs (two tracks are skits), D-Pat laid the foundation of the album’s referential but modern sound. Damien Scott, Billboard, 9 Nov. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'referential.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1660, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of referential was in 1660

Dictionary Entries Near referential

Cite this Entry

“Referential.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 May. 2024.

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