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[ri-fur] /rɪˈfɜr/
verb (used with object), referred, referring.
to direct for information or anything required:
He referred me to books on astrology.
to direct the attention or thoughts of:
The asterisk refers the reader to a footnote.
to hand over or submit for information, consideration, decision, etc.:
to refer the argument to arbitration.
to assign to a class, period, etc.; regard as belonging or related.
to have relation; relate; apply.
verb (used without object), referred, referring.
to direct attention, as a reference mark does.
to have recourse or resort; turn, as for aid or information:
to refer to one's notes.
to make reference or allusion:
The author referred to his teachers twice in his article.
Origin of refer
1325-75; Middle English referren < Latin referre to bring back, equivalent to re- re- + ferre to bring, bear1
Related forms
referable, referrable, referrible
[ref-er-uh-buh l, ri-fur-] /ˈrɛf ər ə bəl, rɪˈfɜr-/ (Show IPA),
referrer, noun
misrefer, verb, misreferred, misreferring.
prerefer, verb (used with object), prereferred, prereferring.
unreferred, adjective
well-referred, adjective
4. attribute, ascribe, impute. 5. pertain, belong. 8. advert, allude. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for referred
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • That information has been referred to a Committee of the Whole.

  • He then referred to Blandois' disappearance, of which it was probable she had heard?

    Little Dorrit Charles Dickens
  • And then they inquired to what Mr. Bohun referred, and then he told them all that had been said.

    Lothair Benjamin Disraeli
  • On board of the packet-ship just now referred to, sir, and on the same occasion.

    A Tale of Two Cities Charles Dickens
  • She did not touch upon the knowledge to which he referred, but went past it to its object.

    The Last Hope Henry Seton Merriman
British Dictionary definitions for referred


verb (often foll by to) -fers, -ferring, -ferred
(intransitive) to make mention (of)
(transitive) to direct the attention of (someone) for information, facts, etc: the reader is referred to Chomsky, 1965
(intransitive) to seek information (from): I referred to a dictionary of English usage, he referred to his notes
(intransitive) to be relevant (to); pertain or relate (to): this song refers to an incident in the Civil War
(transitive) to assign or attribute: Cromwell referred his victories to God
(transitive) to hand over for consideration, reconsideration, or decision: to refer a complaint to another department
(transitive) to hand back to the originator as unacceptable or unusable
(transitive) (Brit) to fail (a student) in an examination
(transitive) (Brit) to send back (a thesis) to a student for improvement
refer to drawer, a request by a bank that the payee consult the drawer concerning a cheque payable by that bank (usually because the drawer has insufficient funds in his account), payment being suspended in the meantime
(transitive) to direct (a patient) for treatment to another doctor, usually a specialist
(transitive) (social welfare) to direct (a client) to another agency or professional for a service
Derived Forms
referable (ˈrɛfərəbəl), referrable (rɪˈfɜːrəbəl) adjective
referral, noun
referrer, noun
Usage note
The common practice of adding back to refer is tautologous, since this meaning is already contained in the re- of refer: this refers to (not back to) what has already been said. However, when refer is used in the sense of passing a document or question for further consideration to the person from whom it was received, it may be appropriate to say he referred the matter back
Word Origin
C14: from Latin referre to carry back, from re- + ferre to bear1
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 referred



late 14c., "to trace back (to a first cause), attribute, assign," from Old French referer (14c.) and directly from Latin referre "to relate, refer," literally "to carry back," from re- "back" (see re-) + ferre "carry" (see infer). Meaning "to commit to some authority for a decision" is from mid-15c.; sense of "to direct (someone) to a book, etc." is from c.1600. Related: Referred; referring.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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