ˈpre-f(ə-)rən(t)s How to pronounce preference (audio)
: the act of preferring : the state of being preferred
: the power or opportunity of choosing
: one that is preferred
: the act, fact, or principle of giving advantages to some over others
: priority in the right to demand and receive satisfaction of an obligation
offensive; see usage paragraph below : orientation sense 2b
sexual preference
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.

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

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.”
Recent Examples on the Web This preference is more popular amongst Millennials (67%) compared to Boomers (37%). Gary Drenik, Forbes, 10 Feb. 2023 That preference was on display in August last year, when the KMT’s Hsia visited China amid lingering tensions over Pelosi’s visit., 7 Feb. 2023 See all Example Sentences for preference 

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

Word History


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

First Known Use

1673, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of preference was in 1673

Dictionary Entries Near preference

Cite this Entry

“Preference.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


pref·​er·​ence ˈpref-ərn(t)s How to pronounce preference (audio)
: the act of preferring
: the state of being preferred
: the power or opportunity of choosing
gave him his preference
: one that is preferred : favorite
my preference is soul music
: the act of giving advantages to some over others
show preference in giving out jobs

Legal Definition


pref·​er·​ence ˈpre-frəns, -fə-rəns How to pronounce preference (audio)
: the right to prior payment of a debt
with preference over the creditors of the heirs or legateesLouisiana Civil Code
: 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.


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