from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun The act of referring to something.
  • noun Significance for a specified matter; relation or relationship.
  • noun Meaning or denotation.
  • noun A mention of an occurrence or situation.
  • noun A note in a publication referring the reader to another passage or source.
  • noun The passage or source so referred to.
  • noun A work frequently used as a source.
  • noun A mark or footnote used to direct a reader elsewhere for additional information.
  • noun Submission of a case to a referee.
  • noun Legal proceedings conducted before or by a referee.
  • noun A person who is in a position to recommend another or to vouch for his or her fitness, as for a job.
  • noun A statement about a person's qualifications, character, and dependability.
  • transitive verb To supply references to.
  • transitive verb To mention in a reference; refer to.
  • idiom (in/with) In connection with; in relation to.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun The act of referring.
  • noun In law:
  • noun Relation; respect; regard: generally in the phrase in or with reference to.
  • noun That which is or may be referred to.
  • noun A direction in a book or writing to refer to some other place or passage: often a mere citation, as of book, chapter, page, or text.
  • noun Assignment; apportionment.
  • noun An appeal.
  • 1. To refer a thing to (something).
  • To assign proper references to, as to a phrase; look up and find by reference.
  • To schedule (property) to be taken for a proposed railway extension.
  • To make out a return of the number of people to be displaced by proposed railway extension.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun The act of referring, or the state of being referred.
  • noun That which refers to something; a specific direction of the attention.
  • noun Relation; regard; respect.
  • noun One who, or that which, is referred to.
  • noun One of whom inquires can be made as to the integrity, capacity, and the like, of another.
  • noun A work, or a passage in a work, to which one is referred.
  • noun The act of submitting a matter in dispute to the judgment of one or more persons for decision.
  • noun (Equity) The process of sending any matter, for inquiry in a cause, to a master or other officer, in order that he may ascertain facts and report to the court.
  • noun rare Appeal.
  • noun a Bible in which brief explanations, and references to parallel passages, are printed in the margin of the text.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A relationship or relation (to something).
  • noun A measurement one can compare to.
  • noun Information about a person, provided by someone (a referee) with whom they are well acquainted
  • noun A reference work.
  • noun semantics A relation between objects in which one object designates, or acts as a means by which to connect to or link to, another object.
  • noun academic writing A short written identification of a previously published work which is used as a source for a text.
  • noun academic writing A previously published written work thus indicated; a source.
  • noun programming An object containing information which refers to data stored elsewhere, as opposed to containing the data itself.
  • noun programming A special sequence used to represent complex characters in a web page such as ™ or €.


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From refer +‎ -ence.


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word reference.


  • Perhaps the rain reference is just a California thing.

    umbrella 2008

  • As for the title reference, I know it's not Team America, but I can't remember who said it next.

    We Need a Montage!* Janice Hardy 2010

  • The Darwin reference is a bit daunting, considering what we do here -- no?

    un-meme 2005

  • The Darwin reference is a bit daunting, considering what we do here -- no?

    un-meme 2005

  • PS: for those of you who didn't get the title reference, it's take from a song sung by The Mighty Boosh.

    Archive 2006-11-01 Laura Anderson 2006

  • PS: for those of you who didn't get the title reference, it's take from a song sung by The Mighty Boosh.

    Soup, soup, a tasty soup, soup Laura Anderson 2006

  • ***If you do not get the title reference, please read this.

    SIZZLER: Jennifer Lopez Has Never Raped a Baby!*** | Best Week Ever 2006

  • * You're on your own for the title reference this time.

    Your Right Hand Thief 2005

  • * You're on your own for the title reference this time.

    Archive 2005-11-01 2005

  • Some by the four chariots understand the four monarchies; and then they read (v. 5), These are the four winds of the heavens, and suppose that therein reference is had to Dan.vii. 2, where Daniel saw, in vision, the four winds of the heavens striving upon the great sea, representing the four monarchies.

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume IV (Isaiah to Malachi) 1721


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • "'Swamp thing.' The 80's called, they want their reference back." -erin

    May 1, 2007

  • "Well!" observed R. Wilfer, cheerfully, "Money and goods are certainly the best of references."

    -Our Mutual Friend, Charles Dickens

    July 31, 2009