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[ref-uh-ree] /ˌrɛf əˈri/
one to whom something is referred, especially for decision or settlement; arbitrator.
(in certain games and sports) a judge having functions fixed by the rules of the game or sport; umpire.
an authority who evaluates scientific, technical, or scholarly papers, grant proposals, or the like for the publication or funding institution to which they have been submitted.
Law. a person selected by a court to take testimony in a case and return it to the court with recommendations as to the decision.
verb (used with object), refereed, refereeing.
to preside over as referee; act as referee in.
verb (used without object), refereed, refereeing.
to act as referee.
Origin of referee
1605-15; refer + -ee
1. arbiter. See judge. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for referee
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Frank Barringer was timekeeper and referee, and at the appointed hour he made both teams line up and catch hold of the rope.

    The Mystery at Putnam Hall Arthur M. Winfield
  • It was like the tap of the bell for a twenty-round go with the referee missin'.

    Shorty McCabe Sewell Ford
  • "Jerk quick and hard when we raise the boxes," the referee directed.

    I Married a Ranger Dama Margaret Smith
  • It's been put up to me to keep time an' referee this mix-up, and I don't want no help.

    Shorty McCabe Sewell Ford
  • The complex tissue of her loves and hates is her attorney, always plaintiff or defendant, not often referee.

    What Will People Say? Rupert Hughes
British Dictionary definitions for referee


a person to whom reference is made, esp for an opinion, information, or a decision
the umpire or judge in any of various sports, esp football and boxing, responsible for ensuring fair play according to the rules
a person who is willing to testify to the character or capabilities of someone
(law) See Official Referee
verb -ees, -eeing, -eed
to act as a referee (in); preside (over)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for referee

1620s, "person who examines patent applications" (see refer). Sporting use recorded by 1820 (specifically of baseball from 1856).


1883, originally colloquial, from referee (n.). Related: Refereed; refereeing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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