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Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English referren, from Old French referer, from Latin referre.


  • (UK) enPR: rī-fû, IPA(key): /ɹɪˈfɜː/
  • (US) enPR: rī-fûr, IPA(key): /ɹɪˈfɝ/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɜː(ɹ)
  • Hyphenation: re‧fer


refer (third-person singular simple present refers, present participle referring, simple past and past participle referred)

  1. (transitive) To direct the attention of (someone toward something)
    The shop assistant referred me to the help desk on ground floor.
  2. (transitive) To submit to (another person or group) for consideration; to send or direct elsewhere.
    He referred the matter to the principal.
    to refer a patient to a psychiatrist
  3. (transitive) To place in or under by a mental or rational process; to assign to, as a class, a cause, source, a motive, reason, or ground of explanation.
    He referred the phenomena to electrical disturbances.
  4. (intransitive) To mention (something); to direct attention (to something)
    To explain the problem, the teacher referred to an example in another textbook.
  5. (intransitive, stative) To make reference to; to be about; to relate to; to regard; to allude to.
    The recipe referred to several unusual ingredients.
    (Can we add an example for this sense?) (grammar) To be referential to another element in a sentence.
    1. (intransitive, programming) To point to either a specific location in computer memory or to a specific object. [+ to (object)]
      In C, the pointer obtained by &a refers to the variable a.
      • 2010 September, Ajay Mittal, Programming In C: A Practical Approach[1], Pearson Education India, →ISBN, →OCLC, page 201:
        Hence, the precise number of bytes to which the pointer refers to is not known. The compiler must know the number of bytes to which a pointer refers to in order to apply dereference operation
  6. (transitive, education) To require to resit an examination.
    Smith's marks in the finals were unsatisfactory and he was referred.
Derived terms[edit]
Related terms[edit]
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.
Further reading[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

Conversion of refer (noun)



refer (plural refers)

  1. (journalism) A blurb on the front page of a newspaper issue or section that refers the reader to the full story inside the issue or section by listing its slug or headline and its page number.
    • 2015 August 5, “Corrections”, in The Herald-News[2], Joliet, Illinois: Shaw Media, via Issuu, page 2:
      A refer on page 1 of the Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015, edition of The Herald-News contained incorrect information about the story “Neighbors at odds over Joliet liquor license” that appeared on Page 4 of the same edition.
    • 2017 May, Amanda May Aruani, “Letter from the Editor”, in The Arts Paper[3], New Haven, Connecticut: The Arts Council of Greater New Haven, via Issuu, page 3:
      Looking at the refers on page 2, it's obvious that May became something of an accidental women's issue.
    • 2021 September 10, Ralph Blumenthal, “A Time Capsule in Two Front Pages”, in The New York Times, New York City:
      The paper of Sept. 11 was not without its alarms. On Page One, an ominous “refer” (pronounced reefer) to an article inside the paper: Palestinian snipers had killed two Israelis, bringing a retaliatory shelling by Israeli tanks. On A3: A suicide bomber had killed two police officers in Istanbul.




From re- +‎ fer (to do).



refer (first-person singular present refaig, past participle refet)

  1. to redo


Further reading[edit]




  1. second-person singular present active imperative of referō