verb (used with object), re·ferred, re·fer·ring.
- 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), re·ferred, re·fer·ring.
- 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.
verb -fers, -ferring or -ferred (often foll by to)
- (intr) to make mention (of)
- (tr) to direct the attention of (someone) for information, facts, etcthe reader is referred to Chomsky, 1965
- (intr) to seek information (from)I referred to a dictionary of English usage; he referred to his notes
- (intr) to be relevant (to); pertain or relate (to)this song refers to an incident in the Civil War
- (tr) to assign or attributeCromwell referred his victories to God
- (tr) to hand over for consideration, reconsideration, or decisionto refer a complaint to another department
- (tr) to hand back to the originator as unacceptable or unusable
- (tr) British to fail (a student) in an examination
- (tr) British 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
- (tr) to direct (a patient) for treatment to another doctor, usually a specialist
- (tr) social welfare to direct (a client) to another agency or professional for a service
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.