pref·​er·​ence | \ ˈpre-fərn(t)s, ˈpre-f(ə-)rən(t)s How to pronounce preference (audio) \

Definition of preference

1a : the act of preferring : the state of being preferred
b : the power or opportunity of choosing
2 : one that is preferred
3 : the act, fact, or principle of giving advantages to some over others
4 : priority in the right to demand and receive satisfaction of an obligation
5 offensive, see usage paragraph below : orientation sense 2b sexual preference

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Synonyms for preference


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Choose the Right Synonym for preference

choice, option, alternative, preference, selection, election mean the act or opportunity of choosing or the thing chosen. choice suggests the opportunity or privilege of choosing freely. freedom of choice option implies a power to choose that is specifically granted or guaranteed. the option of paying now or later alternative implies a need to choose one and reject another possibility. equally attractive alternatives preference suggests a choice guided by one's judgment or predilections. a preference for cool weather selection implies a range of choice. a varied selection of furniture election implies an end or purpose which requires exercise of judgment. doing a tax return forces certain elections on you

Usage of Preference

The term preference as used to refer to sexual orientation is widely considered offensive in its implied suggestion that a person can choose who they are sexually or romantically attracted to.

Examples of preference in a Sentence

Car buyers have recently shown a growing preference for smaller vehicles. When it comes to music, everyone has their own preferences. Some people like small cars and some people like big cars. It's a matter of personal preference. She listed her favorite restaurants in order of preference. He has tried not to show preference in giving out jobs. The policy of the school is to give preference to minority candidates. “We could go to an Italian or Chinese restaurant tonight. What's your preference?” “Either one is fine. I don't have a preference.”
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Recent Examples on the Web Tech giants like Amazon and Netflix cater to this preference through personalized recommendations, while Ikea is as well known for its instruction manuals as its furniture. Gal Oron, Forbes, 1 Sep. 2021 Sure enough, his group demonstrated in 2016 that monkeys have neurons in their prefrontal cortex tuned to a preference for zero rather than other numerosities. Jordana Cepelewicz, Wired, 15 Aug. 2021 Sure enough, his group demonstrated in 2016 that monkeys have neurons in their prefrontal cortex tuned to a preference for zero rather than other numerosities. Quanta Magazine, 10 Aug. 2021 Their choice — after the Pittsburgh Pirates, Texas Rangers, Detroit Tigers and Boston Red Sox have theirs — will come down to preference. Jon Meoli,, 11 July 2021 Israel expanded vaccine eligibility to include adolescents last month but until now had left the matter up to the parents' preference. NBC News, 20 June 2021 Material is paramount, but that really just comes down to preference. Tim Kohut, BGR, 10 June 2021 Most dermatologists typically recommend mineral sunscreens with a minimum of SPF 30, but at the end of the day, your sunscreen selection boils down to personal preference and skin sensitivity levels. Sarah Han, Allure, 23 May 2021 Since the pandemic, Cayo Espanto has shaped the perfect getaway experience to each guest's preference, and the team has taken extra steps to ensure a safe and uninterrupted luxe experience for all. Kimberly Wilson, Travel + Leisure, 1 May 2021

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

1673, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for preference

Middle English preferraunce, from Middle French preferance, from Medieval Latin praeferentia, from Latin praeferent-, praeferens, present participle of praeferre

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Time Traveler for preference

Time Traveler

The first known use of preference was in 1673

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Dictionary Entries Near preference



preference stock

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Statistics for preference

Last Updated

20 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Preference.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for preference



English Language Learners Definition of preference

: a feeling of liking or wanting one person or thing more than another person or thing
: an advantage that is given to some people or things and not to others
: something that is liked or wanted more than another thing : something that is preferred


pref·​er·​ence | \ ˈpre-fə-rəns How to pronounce preference (audio) , ˈpref-rəns \

Kids Definition of preference

1 : a choosing of or special liking for one person or thing rather than another or others Buyers are showing a preference for small cars.
2 : the power or chance to choose : choice I gave him his preference.
3 : a person or thing that is liked or wanted more than another My preference is to travel by train.


pref·​er·​ence | \ ˈpre-frəns, -fə-rəns How to pronounce preference (audio) \

Legal Definition of preference

1 : the right to prior payment of a debt with preference over the creditors of the heirs or legateesLouisiana Civil Code
2 : the transfer of an insolvent debtor's interest in property to a creditor for an earlier debt that gives the creditor more than the creditor would otherwise receive (as under a bankruptcy settlement)

called also voidable preference

— compare antecedent debt at debt, fraudulent conveyance, general assignment at assignment

Note: Preferences can be voided by a bankruptcy trustee because they diminish the bankruptcy estate out of which other creditors will be paid. Preferences must be made during a period (as 90 days before the date of filing a bankruptcy petition) established by bankruptcy law in order to be voidable. Perfection or grant of a security interest during this period is also a preference. The bankruptcy law states exceptions under which payments to creditors are not voidable preferences.

3 : priority

More from Merriam-Webster on preference

Nglish: Translation of preference for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of preference for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about preference


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