confer

verb
con·​fer | \ kən-ˈfər How to pronounce confer (audio) \
conferred; conferring

Essential Meaning of confer

formal
1 : to discuss something important in order to make a decision The lawyer and judge conferred about the ruling.
2 : to give (something, such as a degree, award, title, right, etc.) to someone or something

Full Definition of confer

intransitive verb

: to compare views or take counsel : consult

transitive verb

1 : to bestow from or as if from a position of superiority conferred an honorary degree on her knowing how to read was a gift conferred with manhood— Murray Kempton
2 : to give (something, such as a property or characteristic) to someone or something a reputation for power will confer power— John Spanier

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from confer

conferment \ kən-​ˈfər-​mənt How to pronounce confer (audio) \ noun
conferrable \ kən-​ˈfər-​ə-​bəl How to pronounce confer (audio) \ adjective
conferral \ kən-​ˈfər-​əl How to pronounce confer (audio) \ noun
conferrer \ kən-​ˈfər-​ər How to pronounce confer (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for confer

Synonyms

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Choose the Right Synonym for confer

give, present, donate, bestow, confer, afford mean to convey to another as a possession. give, the general term, is applicable to any passing over of anything by any means. give alms gave her a ride on a pony give my love to your mother present carries a note of formality and ceremony. present an award donate is likely to imply a publicized giving (as to charity). donate a piano to the orphanage bestow implies the conveying of something as a gift and may suggest condescension on the part of the giver. bestow unwanted advice confer implies a gracious giving (as of a favor or honor). confer an honorary degree afford implies a giving or bestowing usually as a natural or legitimate consequence of the character of the giver. the trees afford shade a development that affords us some hope

Confer vs. Consult

Confer and consult are very closely related in meaning, and each has senses that are synonymous with the other’s. But as is so often the case with near-synonyms, there are contexts in which one word is preferable to the other.

If you confer with someone, it is entirely possible that you will be seeking advice, but you could also simply be having a discussion (“they conferred privately before making a decision”). If you are consulting someone or something, it is more likely that you are seeking advice (“he consulted his doctor before deciding on a course of treatment”). Consult is unambiguously the correct choice when one is seeking guidance or information from a non-human source; you would consult (not confer with) a dictionary for information on a word.

The sense of confer that is concerned with giving something (as in, “education confers many benefits”) is not shared by consult.

Examples of confer in a Sentence

The cameleers … conferred with each other about the safest path across. — Greg Child, Mixed Emotions: Mountaineering Writings of Greg Child, 1993 He liked the ease and glitter of the life, and the lustre conferred on him by being a member of this group of rich and conspicuous people. — Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth, 1905 It was a traditional compliment to be whinged at by an Englishman. It was his way of saying he trusted you, he was conferring upon you the privilege of getting to know the real him. — Margaret Atwood, New Yorker, 5 Mar.1990 The lawyer and judge conferred about the ruling. the British monarch continues to confer knighthood on those who are outstanding in their fields of endeavor
See More
Recent Examples on the Web These are just some of the many potential impacts non-spike mutations could confer, and thus they should be monitored intently. William A. Haseltine, Forbes, 14 Oct. 2021 Folt will offer the apology and confer the degrees at an Asian Pacific Alumni Assn. Teresa Watanabe, Los Angeles Times, 14 Oct. 2021 There's no individual at Bentley to confer a knighthood on, and there are no gold medals for making an excellent GT more excellent. Jonathon Ramsey, Car and Driver, 14 Sep. 2021 Under a timeline laid out in Friday’s order, the attorneys involved in the case have two weeks to confer and determine next steps. James Brooks, Anchorage Daily News, 9 Oct. 2021 Ultimately, no one moved, the clock ran out and they were all penalized (granted the racing authority did have to confer as to what, since this had not happened before). Howard Rosen, Forbes, 30 Aug. 2021 Language is so powerful because of the way words and concepts can be combined to confer a virtually infinite landscape of ideas and thoughts. Will Knight, Wired, 23 Aug. 2021 Based on the available data, all the vaccines given in the United States appear to confer a solid level of immunity against severe outcomes such as hospitalization and death. Alexis C. Madrigal, The Atlantic, 15 Aug. 2021 That’s not to say this installment, set in the early 1980s and directed by Michael Chaves rather than the masterly James Wan, who did the first two, has no pleasures to confer. Joe Morgenstern, WSJ, 3 June 2021

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

circa 1500, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

History and Etymology for confer

borrowed from Latin conferō, conferre "to bring or take, convey, bestow, bring together, unite," from con- con- + ferō, ferre "to carry, bear" — more at bear entry 2

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About confer

Time Traveler for confer

Time Traveler

The first known use of confer was circa 1500

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near confer

confederator

confer

conferee

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for confer

Last Updated

24 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Confer.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/confer. Accessed 26 Oct. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for confer

confer

verb
con·​fer | \ kən-ˈfər How to pronounce confer (audio) \
conferred; conferring

Kids Definition of confer

1 : bestow, present Many honors were conferred upon her at graduation.
2 : to compare views especially in studying a problem The umpires decided to confer with one another.

More from Merriam-Webster on confer

Nglish: Translation of confer for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of confer for Arabic Speakers

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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