1. an act or instance of referring.
  2. a mention; allusion.
  3. something for which a name or designation stands; denotation.
  4. a direction in a book or writing to some other book, passage, etc.
  5. a book, passage, etc., to which one is directed.
  6. reference mark(def 2).
  7. material contained in a footnote or bibliography, or referred to by a reference mark.
  8. use or recourse for purposes of information: a library for public reference.
  9. a person to whom one refers for testimony as to one’s character, abilities, etc.
  10. a statement, usually written, as to a person’s character, abilities, etc.
  11. relation, regard, or respect: all persons, without reference to age.

verb (used with object), ref·er·enced, ref·er·enc·ing.

  1. to furnish (a book, dissertation, etc.) with references: Each new volume is thoroughly referenced.
  2. to arrange (notes, data, etc.) for easy reference: Statistical data is referenced in the glossary.
  3. to refer to: to reference a file.


  1. the act or an instance of referring
  2. something referred, esp proceedings submitted to a referee in law
  3. a direction of the attention to a passage elsewhere or to another book, document, etc
  4. a book or passage referred to
  5. a mention or allusionthis book contains several references to the Civil War
  6. philosophy
    1. the relation between a word, phrase, or symbol and the object or idea to which it refers
    2. the object referred to by an expressionCompare sense (def. 12)
    1. a source of information or facts
    2. (as modifier)a reference book; a reference library
  7. a written testimonial regarding one’s character or capabilities
  8. a person referred to for such a testimonial
    1. (foll by to)relation or delimitation, esp to or by membership of a specific class or group; respect or regardall people, without reference to sex or age
    2. (as modifier)a reference group
  9. point of reference a fact forming the basis of an evaluation or assessment; criterion
  10. terms of reference the specific limits of responsibility that determine the activities of an investigating body, etc

verb (tr)

  1. to furnish or compile a list of references for (an academic thesis, publication, etc)
  2. to make a reference to; refer tohe referenced Chomsky, 1956


  1. commerce with reference toreference your letter of the 9th inst Abbreviation: re

1580s, “act of referring,” from refer + -ance, or else from French référence, from Medieval Latin *referentia, from Latin referentem (nominative referens), present participle of referre (see refer). Meaning “direction to a book or passage” is recorded from 1610s. Meaning “testimonial” is from 1895. Reference book dates from 1808. Phrase in reference to is attested from 1590s.


1620s, “to assign;” as “to provide with a reference,” 1837 (implied in referenced), from reference (n.). Related: Referencing.

see in regard (reference) to.

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