Definition of refer in English:


Line breaks: refer
Pronunciation: /rɪˈfəː

verb (refers, referring, referred)

  • 2 [with object] (refer something to) Pass a matter to (a higher body) for a decision: the prisoner may require the Secretary of State to refer his case to the Parole Board
    More example sentences
    • We have repeatedly asked the council to refer this matter to an independent body.
    • His decision not to refer the matter to the Minister, on the face of the material before the Court, cannot be said to be so unreasonable that no reasonable decision-maker could have made it.
    • A decision to refer a matter to the minister depends on its sensitivity, demands on resources, need for a political judgement, and uncertainty about the minister's reactions.
  • 2.1 (refer someone to) Send or direct someone to a medical specialist: she was referred to a clinical psychologist for counselling
    More example sentences
    • In addition, all of the participants had various medical conditions, but they were referred to the clinic because of stress-related symptoms.
    • A sequence of spots of lights is shown, and you will be asked which ones you can see. If you are found to have glaucoma, you will be referred to an ophthalmologist (specialist eye doctor) for treatment.
    • Since then, I have been referred to a specialist rheumatology hospital and have been prescribed many nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • 2.2 [no object] (refer to) Read or otherwise use (a source of information) in order to ascertain something; consult: I always refer to a dictionary when I come upon a new word
    More example sentences
    • Leddy refers to sources as diverse as Bartok, Darwin and Baudrillard, but essentially it's a send-up.
    • The amount of time people spend contending with each other there, quoting articles, and referring to other sources!
    • The most difficult part of packing books is deciding which ones I am most likely to want to read or refer to in the near future.
    consult, turn to, look at, look up (in), seek information from, search in, have recourse to, call on; seek advice from, call in, take counsel from, ask
  • 3 [with object] (refer something to) • archaic Trace or attribute something to (someone or something) as a cause or source: the God to whom he habitually referred his highest inspirations
    More example sentences
    • Unsurprisingly, Gallo refers everything back to his childhood, mining his youth for anecdotes.
  • 3.1Regard something as belonging to (a certain period, place, or class): you went wrong when you referred all legislation to a part of virtue
    More example sentences
    • Most people refer the relationship to the Accord period, and the last had Labor governments.
    • Bayfield interpreted his specimens as belonging to the coral genus Cyathophyllum, while Meglitsky referred the Siberian specimens to Calamites, a Carboniferous genus of vascular plants.
  • 4 [with object] Fail (a candidate in an examination): twenty-four students passed the prescribed test while four students were referred


refer to drawer

British A phrase used by banks when suspending payment of a cheque.
More example sentences
  • Oh, and by the way, they bounced our cheque - ‘refer to drawer’- which I only discovered earlier today when it arrived back at our installer's house.
  • Look out for direct debits that are returned ‘refer to drawer’ and be wary of a business changing banks.
  • It has sometimes been said that ‘refer to drawer’ is not defamatory, meaning ‘go back to the drawer and ask him to pay’, but today it is generally accepted that the phrase may imply a lack of funds.



Pronunciation: /rɪˈfəːrəb(ə)l, ˈrɛf(ə)r-/
More example sentences
  • The second element must be causally referable to the first, which is to say the termination of employment, the retrenchment, must be on account of or as a consequence of the redundancy of position, not some other circumstance.
  • Here, Carey compares the fly experiments with data from other taxa whose longevity is summarized and, finally, he comes to make his results and scientific thoughts referable to human longevity.
  • An insurance company is exempt from corporation tax on income and chargeable gains in respect of so much of its long term business fund as is referable to pension business - see section 438 ICTA 1988.


More example sentences
  • The search engines provide the glue that binds this blog to a global stream of thought because when you do the sums, I'm getting five times as many people from search engine referrers as I am from hyperlinked daily readers.
  • They have convinced the work referrers - local professionals - to refer vulnerable and stressed clients to them by concentrating exclusively on business recovery and insolvency.
  • I found this site in my referrers a few days ago and so far I'm enjoying what I've read (thanks for the link, will return the compliment when I get around to revamping my own links page).


late Middle English: from Old French referer or Latin referre 'carry back', from re- 'back' + ferre 'bring'.

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