Definition of reference in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈrɛf(ə)r(ə)ns/


[mass noun]
1The action of mentioning or alluding to something: he made reference to the enormous power of the mass media [count noun]: 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;
citation of, instance of
1.1 [count noun] A mention or citation of a source of information in a book or article: each chapter should have references to books covering the subject in greater depth
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.
1.2 [count noun] A source of information cited in a book or article.
Example sentences
  • The reference table stores the bibliographic information for the references cited during interpretation and compilation.
  • Perhaps Shann could have been more specific for the sake of those readers who do not have the time to seek out all the articles cited as references.
  • We conducted an extensive secondary search of references cited in publications identified in the above searches.
source, information source, citation, authority, credit;
bibliographical data, bibliography
2The use 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 to an authority for decision or consideration: the publishers reprinted and sold the work without reference to the author
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, passing on, handover, direction, remission
3 [count noun] A letter from a previous employer testifying to someone’s ability or reliability, used when applying for a new job: I was dismissed from the library, but with a good reference
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, good word, backing;
dated character


[with object]
1Provide (a book or article) with citations of sources of information: 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.
2Mention or refer to: the media referenced our association in almost 40 articles
More example sentences
  • The service is undergoing a rapid expansion to 20 or more blogs (as he mentions in the comment referenced above).
  • I only found out about it when a couple of people e-mailed me referencing it - and when a work colleague mentioned it to me in the pub.
  • In my time spent here I have heard Canada referenced a total of four times in the mainstream media.



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

Pronunciation: /ˌtəːmz əv ˈrɛf(ə)r(ə)ns/
Pronunciation: /ˌtəːmz əv ˈrɛf(ə)rəns/
The scope and limitations of an activity or area of knowledge: the minister 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.

Words that rhyme with reference

deference, preference

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: ref¦er|ence

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