Definition of preferential in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˌprefəˈren(t)SH(ə)l/


1Of or involving preference or partiality; constituting a favor or privilege: preferential interest rates may be offered to employees preferential trade terms
More example sentences
  • It indicates a biased approach and preferential treatment in favour of individuals and groups.
  • ‘I want to emphasise that I'm not trying to use parliamentary privilege to get preferential treatment or investigation of my specific case,’ he said.
  • The targets, revealed this weekend, are a response to the government drive to counter what it sees as the preferential treatment of ‘privileged’ public school pupils.
special, better, privileged, superior, favorable;
partial, discriminatory, partisan, biased
1.1(Of a union shop) giving employment preference to union members: a preferential shop
1.2(Of voting or an election) in which the voter puts candidates in order of preference.
Example sentences
  • The preferential vote has allowed the Town Party to become a niche party.
  • This is done so that parties can ‘direct’ their preferential votes.
  • Given a choice with optional preferential voting, voters expressed a primary vote intention, but then did not give preferences.
1.3(Of a creditor) having a claim on the receipt of payment from a debtor that will be met before those of other creditors.
Example sentences
  • It showed that the assets were sufficient to cover the amount of the debts assigned to the firm and all the potential claims of the preferential creditors.
  • It will amend the Companies Act to make redundancy payments a preferential claim when a company goes into liquidation or receivership.
  • However, the meeting may approve such a proposal or modification with the concurrence of the preferential creditor concerned.


Mid 19th century: from preference, on the pattern of differential.

Words that rhyme with preferential

cadential, confidential, consequential, credential, deferential, differential, essential, evidential, existential, experiential, exponential, influential, intelligential, irreverential, jurisprudential, penitential, pestilential, potential, presidential, providential, prudential, quintessential, referential, residential, reverential, sapiential, sciential, sentential, sequential, tangential, torrential

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: pref·er·en·tial

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.