pre·​fer | \ pri-ˈfər How to pronounce prefer (audio) \
preferred; preferring

Definition of prefer

transitive verb

1 : to promote or advance to a rank or position
2 : to like better or best prefers sports to reading prefers to watch TV
3 : to give (a creditor) priority
4 archaic : to put or set forward or before someone : recommend
5 : to bring or lay against someone won't prefer charges
6 : to bring forward or lay before one for consideration

Other Words from prefer

preferrer noun

Examples of prefer in a Sentence

Some people like vanilla ice cream, but I prefer chocolate. She tends to prefer small college campuses. I prefer this dictionary because of its helpful examples. Which one is the preferred alternative? What is the preferred pronunciation of her name?
Recent Examples on the Web Some tolerate part sun conditions, but many prefer a few hours of sun for best blooms. Arricca Sansone, Country Living, 24 June 2022 Yelp is closing three of its U.S. offices after finding most of its employees prefer to work remotely. Dee-ann Durbin, Chicago Tribune, 23 June 2022 Avid hikers and backpackers will fall in love with the 14-mile out-and-back trip out to Kolob Arch, which winds along mellow La Verkin Creek, while automobile cruisers might prefer a scenic ride along Kolob Terrace Road. Emily Pennington, Outside Online, 23 June 2022 Frequent runners tend to prefer performance and racing styles by Hoka, Nike, On Running, and Asics, while more casual runners have found great running shoes at Adidas, New Balance, and Reebok, among others. Halie Lesavage, Harper's BAZAAR, 23 June 2022 Doctors already offering Moderna's vaccine for young children and adults may also prefer to stick to one brand for all age groups. Alexander Tin, CBS News, 23 June 2022 Most of the grouper farmed in Taiwan is sold live to China, where customers generally prefer to eat fresh fish that is cooked shortly after it is killed. New York Times, 22 June 2022 Grass carp eat aquatic plants, while black carp prefer mussels and snails. John Flesher, Anchorage Daily News, 22 June 2022 Our love of gas cooking, for example, comes from industry's success in convincing us that real cooks prefer gas. The Editors, Scientific American, 21 June 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of prefer

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for prefer

Middle English preferren, from Anglo-French preferrer, from Latin praeferre to put before, prefer, from prae- + ferre to carry — more at bear

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Time Traveler for prefer

Time Traveler

The first known use of prefer was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

26 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Prefer.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for prefer


pre·​fer | \ pri-ˈfər How to pronounce prefer (audio) \
preferred; preferring

Kids Definition of prefer

: to like better than another or others She prefers chocolate ice cream.


transitive verb
pre·​fer | \ pri-ˈfər How to pronounce prefer (audio) \
preferred; preferring

Legal Definition of prefer

1 : to give (a creditor or debt) priority or preference any preferred charges such as child support or alimonyIn re Smiley, 427 P.2d 179 (1967)
2 : to bring forward for determination especially : to bring (a charge) against someone the various means by which a grand jury might prefer charges State v. Byrd, 399 S.E.2d 267 (1990)

More from Merriam-Webster on prefer

Nglish: Translation of prefer for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of prefer for Arabic Speakers


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