verb (used with object), re·ferred, re·fer·ring.

  1. to direct for information or anything required: He referred me to books on astrology.
  2. to direct the attention or thoughts of: The asterisk refers the reader to a footnote.
  3. to hand over or submit for information, consideration, decision, etc.: to refer the argument to arbitration.
  4. to assign to a class, period, etc.; regard as belonging or related.
  5. to have relation; relate; apply.

verb (used without object), re·ferred, re·fer·ring.

  1. to direct attention, as a reference mark does.
  2. to have recourse or resort; turn, as for aid or information: to refer to one’s notes.
  3. to make reference or allusion: The author referred to his teachers twice in his article.

verb -fers, -ferring or -ferred (often foll by to)

  1. (intr) to make mention (of)
  2. (tr) to direct the attention of (someone) for information, facts, etcthe reader is referred to Chomsky, 1965
  3. (intr) to seek information (from)I referred to a dictionary of English usage; he referred to his notes
  4. (intr) to be relevant (to); pertain or relate (to)this song refers to an incident in the Civil War
  5. (tr) to assign or attributeCromwell referred his victories to God
  6. (tr) to hand over for consideration, reconsideration, or decisionto refer a complaint to another department
  7. (tr) to hand back to the originator as unacceptable or unusable
  8. (tr) British to fail (a student) in an examination
  9. (tr) British to send back (a thesis) to a student for improvement
  10. 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
  11. (tr) to direct (a patient) for treatment to another doctor, usually a specialist
  12. (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.

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