from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To direct to a source for help or information: referred her to a heart specialist; referred me to his last employer for a recommendation.
  • transitive v. To assign or attribute to; regard as originated by.
  • transitive v. To assign to or regard as belonging within a particular kind or class.
  • transitive v. To submit (a matter in dispute) to an authority for arbitration, decision, or examination.
  • transitive v. To direct the attention of: refer him to his duties.
  • intransitive v. To pertain; concern: questions referring to yesterday's lecture.
  • intransitive v. To make mention or reference.
  • intransitive v. To have recourse; turn: refer to a dictionary.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To direct the attention of.
  • v. To submit to (another person or group) for consideration.
  • v. To allude to, make a reference or allusion to.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To have recourse; to apply; to appeal; to betake one's self.
  • intransitive v. To have relation or reference; to relate; to point.
  • intransitive v. To carry the mind or thought; to direct attention.
  • intransitive v. To direct inquiry for information or a guarantee of any kind, as in respect to one's integrity, capacity, pecuniary ability, and the like.
  • transitive v. To carry or send back.
  • transitive v. Hence: To send or direct away; to send or direct elsewhere, as for treatment, aid, information, decision, etc.; to make over, or pass over, to another
  • transitive v. 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.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To bear or carry back; bring back.
  • To trace back; assign to as origin, source, etc.; impute; assign; attribute.
  • To hand over or intrust for consideration and decision; deliver over, as to another person or tribunal for treatment, information, decision, and the like: as, to refer a matter to a third person; parties to a suit refer their cause to arbitration; the court refers a cause to individuals for examination and report, or for trial and decision.
  • Reflexively, to betake one's self to; appeal.
  • To reduce or bring in relation, as to some standard.
  • To assign, as to a class, rank, historical position, or the like.
  • To defer; put off; postpone.
  • To direct for information; instruct to apply for any purpose.
  • Synonyms Ascribe, Charge, etc. See attribute.
  • To have relation; relate.
  • To have recourse; apply; appeal: as, to refer to an encyclopedia; to refer to one's notes.
  • To allude; make allusion.
  • To direct the attention; serve as a mark or sign of reference.
  • To give a reference: as, to refer to a former employer for a recommendation.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. have as a meaning
  • v. seek information from
  • v. think of, regard, or classify under a subsuming principle or with a general group or in relation to another
  • v. be relevant to
  • v. send or direct for treatment, information, or a decision
  • v. make reference to
  • v. use a name to designate


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English referren, from Old French referer, from Latin referre : re-, re- + ferre, to carry; see bher-1 in Indo-European roots.


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