Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

refer - definition and synonyms

What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.

Thesaurus diagram

The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

verb     refer pronunciation in British English
Word Forms
present tense
present participlereferring
past tensereferred
past participlereferred
Related words

phrasal verb

refer to

Word Forms
present tense
I/you/we/theyrefer to
he/she/itrefers to
present participlereferring to
past tensereferred to
past participlereferred to
  1. 1
    refer to someone/something to mention someone or something when you are speaking or writing

    She referred to the subject several times during her speech.

    Jack was careful not to refer to the woman by name.

    refer to someone/something as:

    Even as a boy he referred to his father as Steve.

    refer back to something (=mention something again):

    I would like to refer back to something I said in my introduction.

  2. 2
    refer to something to describe something, or to be about something

    These notes refer to the case of a teenage murderer.

    The termgroupwarerefers to software designed to be used by several computer users at once.

  3. 3
    refer someone to someone/something to send someone to another person or place in order to get help, information, or advice

    Her case was referred to the Court of Appeal.

  4. 4
    refer to something formal to look at a book, map etc for information

    Please refer to our catalogue for details of all our products.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter


to manipulate someone psychologically so that they begin to question their own perceptions and memories

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary

Dunning-Kruger effect

the phenomenon by which an incompetent person is too incompetent to understand his own incompetence

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog
Macmillan learn live love play