, re·fers verb, transitive
- To direct to a source for help or information: referred her to a heart specialist; referred me to his last employer for a recommendation.
- To assign or attribute to; regard as originated by.
- To assign to or regard as belonging within a particular kind or class.
- To submit (a matter in dispute) to an authority for arbitration, decision, or examination.
- To direct the attention of: refer him to his duties.
- To pertain; concern: questions referring to yesterday's lecture.
- To make mention or reference.
- To have recourse; turn: refer to a dictionary.
Origin: Middle English referren
Origin: , from Old French referer
Origin: , from Latin referre
Origin: : re-, re-
Origin: + ferre, to carry; see bher-1 in Indo-European roots
- refˈer·a·ble (rĕfˈər-ə-bəl, rĭ-fûrˈ-) adjective
It is sometimes believed that the phrase refer back
is redundant, since the prefix re-
means “back,” but the objection is misplaced. In fact, an expression can refer either to something that has already been mentioned or to something that is yet to be mentioned, and the distinction between refer back
and refer ahead
may thus be required for clarification. For example, the sentence Jones promised that if he was elected to the council, Harris would be made the council president
is ambiguous, because the pronoun he
may either refer back or refer ahead. See Usage Notes at allude