Definition of reference in English:


Syllabification: ref·er·ence
Pronunciation: /ˈref(ə)rəns


  • 1The action of mentioning or alluding to something: he made reference to the enormous power of the mass media references to Darwinism and evolution
    More example sentences
    • They walked in the direction of the barn as he made reference to meeting her models for the project.
    • The extent to which folk medicine, which I've made reference to, is practiced is a measure of the quality of the medical service available in that community.
    • It is clear that both Messier and Bronfman had the TimeWarner / AOL model in mind when they made reference to music unfolding on the Internet.
    mention of, allusion to, comment on, remark about
  • 1.1A mention or citation of a source of information in a book or article.
    More example sentences
    • This state of affairs can be achieved by reading the trade papers for a couple of years, and by reading some of the books mentioned in the references section of this essay.
    • It makes it possible to discover books that have references or sections or chapters that are of interest to you even though the book as a whole may not be.
    • Not that the book lacks citations, references and footnotes.
  • 1.2A book or passage cited with a reference.
    More example sentences
    • As a one-source database reference, the book is essentially complete.
    • A recent Spanish study found that promotional statements made in nearly half of almost 300 advertisements were not supported by the reference they cited.
    • I can't even find the reference, or else I would have cited that instead.
    source, citation, authority, credit; bibliographical data
  • 2Use of a source of information in order to ascertain something: popular works of reference [as modifier]: a reference work
    More example sentences
    • It may be either a market value, if the dog has any, or some special or pecuniary value to the owner, that may be ascertained by reference to the usefulness and services of the dog.
    • So good is it that I've put it in the sidebar under ‘Information’ for permanent reference.
    • That work was then put on video and stored as an invaluable source of reference.
  • 2.1The sending of a matter for decision or consideration to some authority: he demanded the immediate reference of the whole dispute to the United Nations
    More example sentences
    • The decision was taken without reference to the members who should have been made aware that a funding difficulty existed.
    • It is clear the applicant made a deliberate decision, without reference to planning officers, to implement changes.
    • We were left to make many decisions without reference to the office back in the city.
    referral, transfer, remission
  • 3A letter from a previous employer testifying to someone’s ability or reliability, used when applying for a new job.
    More example sentences
    • Mr Bradshaw handed in references from a previous employer which spoke of her reliability and honesty.
    • She's really down to earth and has fantastic references from her previous employers.
    • ‘I think any employer would want to do a fairly thorough check of references of previous employers of an individual,’ said Mitchell.
    testimonial, character reference, recommendation; credentials


[with object] Back to top  
  • Provide (a book or article) with citations of authorities: each chapter is referenced, citing literature up to 1990
    More example sentences
    • The new book is excellently referenced from sources past and present.
    • With the exception of the modeling papers, most articles are well referenced with conclusions clearly supported by the data furnished.
    • I really appreciated your well-researched and referenced article on Ashcroft and the separation of church and state.


for future reference

For use at a later date: she lodged this idea in the back of her mind for future reference
More example sentences
  • You have to look at each book carefully - not casually - internalise the contents, then stow it away in your mind for future reference.
  • As an observer, I study each animal and enclosure design, take note and photos for future reference, then relax and watch my quarry.
  • This lengthy description of London's Senate House, designed by Charles Holden, is a perfect example, a good read to bookmark for future reference.

terms of reference

The scope and limitations of an activity or area of knowledge: the judge will present a plan outlining the inquiry’s terms of reference

with (or in) reference to

In relation to; as regards: war can only be explained with reference to complex social factors
More example sentences
  • My connection to farming can't be explained with reference to everyday Swiss life.
  • Some people try to explain this with reference to some natural phenomenon, such as a solar eclipse.
  • I write with reference to letters in the Guardian recently regarding road cleaning or, more precisely, the lack of it.

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Pronunciation: skəʊʃ
a small amount; a little