ref·er·ence (rĕfər-əns, rĕfrəns)
1. The act of referring to something: filed away the article for future reference.
a. Significance for a specified matter; relation or relationship: Her speeches have special reference to environmental policy.
b. Meaning or denotation: The reference of the word “lion” is to a kind of wild cat.
3. A mention of an occurrence or situation: made frequent references to her promotion.
a. A note in a publication referring the reader to another passage or source.
b. The passage or source so referred to.
c. A work frequently used as a source.
d. A mark or footnote used to direct a reader elsewhere for additional information.
a. Submission of a case to a referee.
b. Legal proceedings conducted before or by a referee.
a. A person who recommends another or who can vouch for another's fitness or qualifications, as for a job.
b. A statement about a person's qualifications, character, and dependability.
tr.v. ref·er·enced, ref·er·enc·ing, ref·er·enc·esIdiom:
1. To supply (a text) with references: The author hadn't adequately referenced the third chapter, so the copyeditor suggested adding more citations. This article is thoroughly referenced with up-to-date sources.
a. To cite as a reference: The monograph doesn't reference any peer-reviewed articles.
b. Usage Problem To mention or allude to: The comedian's monologue referenced many Hollywood stars.
in(or with)reference to
In connection with; in relation to: This letter is in reference to the invoice that accompanied the package.
ref′er·ential (-ə-rĕnshəl) adj.
Usage Note: Though originally a noun, reference is often used as a transitive verb meaning “to supply (a book, article, or other work) with references.” People also use the verb to mean “To cite as a reference” or simply “To mention or allude to.” Though some traditionalists oppose these latter two uses of reference, the usage is most widely accepted when the context involves actual citing of sources. For instance, in our 2013 survey, fully 70 percent of the Usage Panel found The paper references several articles on global warming at least somewhat acceptable, while only 37 percent accepted the sentence During the press conference, the mayor referenced the recent floods.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.