re·​fer·​ral | \ri-ˈfər-əl \

Definition of referral 

1 : the act, action, or an instance of referring gave the patient a referral to a specialist

2 : one that is referred

Examples of referral in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Get referrals through friends and family, Roffman says. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "How to Persuade Someone You Love to See a Doctor," 6 Nov. 2018 That meant someone like Taylor, who relies on public transportation, had trouble getting to referrals for physical care at locations far away from her psychiatric appointments. Caroline Covington, Washington Post, "Texas Clinics Busting Traditional Silos Of Mental And Physical Health Care," 9 July 2018 This kind of self-accountability will impress potential clients and will likely be mentioned in any referral. Micah Iverson, USA TODAY, "Lifestyle choices: 7 habits of highly effective freelancers," 23 Jan. 2018 Trump’s proposed domestic gag rule would stop health care providers who perform or offer referrals for abortions from receiving funding. Jennifer Wright, Harper's BAZAAR, "Inside the Modern-Day Underground Railroad for Abortions," 31 May 2018 Cohen’s lawyer said he was told the investigation reached the federal prosecutors’ office in Manhattan through a referral from Mueller’s office. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "Robert Mueller’s Most Important Accomplishment," 16 May 2018 Ask your doctor for a referral, or check the website of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies. Consumer Reports, Washington Post, "That aching back is hard to fix, but here are a few things to try," 9 July 2018 In return for the referrals, Mix would make kickbacks to Washington's charity in amounts that would eventually total more than $155,000. Aaron Randle, kansascity, "Former NBA player sentenced in Kansas City to federal prison for fraud, identity theft," 9 July 2018 Cohen's finances are now under investigation by federal investigators in New York, following a referral from special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating contacts between the Trump presidential campaign and Russian intermediaries., "AP: Trump Lawyer Met Russian Oligarch at Trump Tower," 25 May 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of referral

1927, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about referral

Statistics for referral

Last Updated

12 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for referral

The first known use of referral was in 1927

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for referral



English Language Learners Definition of referral

: the act of sending someone to another person or place for treatment, help, advice, etc.


re·​fer·​ral | \ri-ˈfər-əl \

Medical Definition of referral 

1 : the process of directing or redirecting (as a medical case or a patient) to an appropriate specialist or agency for definitive treatment

2 : an individual that is referred


re·​fer·​ral | \ri-ˈfər-əl \

Legal Definition of referral 

: the act or an instance of referring appealed the referral of the bill to the Budget Committee

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on referral

What made you want to look up referral? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


something that serves to warn or remind

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Autumn Words of the Day 2018

  • a-top-down-image-of-road-through-an-autumn-forest
  • Which is a synonym of fugacious?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!