Definition of reference in English:


See synonyms for reference

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  • 1The action of mentioning or alluding to something.

    ‘he made reference to the enormous power of the mass media’
    • ‘references to Darwinism and evolution’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He made reference to turnover rates of 100%, but if an organisation is achieving such rates then it should really be looking at its own operation and not placing blame elsewhere.’
    • ‘Finally, I noticed that a huge number of the stories on Latham's bouts of pancreatitis made reference to how pancreatitis was often triggered by excessive alcohol consumption.’
    • ‘In his introduction, the Prime Minister made reference to this new type of relationship that China and Australia are developing and the significance of his address to Parliament.’
    • ‘One of the poems, written in June 1999, entitled Knocking on Heaven's Door, made reference to ‘one million dollars cash’.’
    • ‘Peake also made reference to the existence of the National Lotteries Control Board on Duke Street, which lay in close proximity to the Methodist Church just across the road.’
    • ‘Peter Mandelson and Robin Cook, the cabinet Europhiles, both made reference to ‘new mechanisms’ for dealing with Europe on the conference fringe.’
    • ‘The report also made reference to the very good provision in the Speech and Language Centre, which in turn had led to the very good achievement of pupils with speech and communication difficulties.’
    • ‘She then moved to works of a larger scale and in colour, and in the 1980s made reference to art history, fashion photography, television, horror movies and pornography.’
    • ‘So Mr Howard made reference to the proposals for off-shore processing of asylum claims, even if that laid him open to charges of pandering to the far-Right's agenda.’
    • ‘The discussion from the Junior Group made reference to the fact that Waterford was not as bad as other cities in relation to crime but that there was a concern over pickpockets.’
    • ‘I've written novels which make frequent passing reference to the Soviet Union, Lenin, Trotsky, and communism.’
    • ‘Well, the submissions make a passing reference to the fact that Erasmus was of that opinion, your Honour.’
    • ‘The objects used in the installation make specific cultural references.’
    • ‘The title is only passing reference to the Louisville Institute sabbatical that occasioned its writing.’
    • ‘Many of those aimed at youngsters are barely monitored and contain explicit sexual references.’
    • ‘Movie themes and pop culture references appear elsewhere.’
    • ‘For this reason, their value is often calculated by making reference to the long bond yield.’
    mention of, allusion to, comment on, remark about
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1A 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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I haven't put chapter and verse references in my answer to Larry King.’
      • ‘The bibliography of Chandler's book on Pol Pot's Secret Prison S- 21 stretches to thousands of references, articles and books that have been written on Pol Pot and the prison.’
      • ‘When the subject is larger than could be covered in this general book, references are given.’
      • ‘The book had 475 references from diverse sources and provided a common background to a growing community of scientists.’
      • ‘We also reviewed books, bibliographies, and conference proceedings of related topics as well as citations in these books and articles and references provided by colleagues.’
      • ‘The list of references in this chapter is extensive and up-to-date, as are all the references in this book.’
      • ‘The final section of the book contains over 1,000 references.’
      • ‘There are almost four hundred references given in the book's concluding section, which is itself an important contribution.’
      • ‘In addition to these compelling narratives, the chapters include numerous references and a section of reflections, questions, and exercises.’
      • ‘The many pages of references in all these books show the industry that has gone into them, which would rarely be possible without the academic resources that have supported the first and last.’
      • ‘Your Honour does not want the precise page references in the various judgments?’
      • ‘Still I note the obligatory " failure " references in the third paragraph.’
      • ‘You can search through Bible Gateway's content by entering a keyword or a specific passage reference.’
      • ‘They're derivative - the top of the tower in the middle reminds of some other building, and unfortunately I loaned out the book that has the reference.’
      • ‘The footnote reference to the highlighted passage is the SFEI case.’
      • ‘That single sentence is the only published reference to the Book I've ever seen.’
      • ‘A new book by Amy Reigle Newland, Jan Perree and Robert Schaap - see the book reference on this page - brings a bit more light into his art works.’
    2. 1.2A book or passage cited with a reference.
      ‘As a one-source database reference, the book is essentially complete.’
      • ‘A recent Spanish study found that promotional statements made in nearly half of almost 300 advertisements were not supported by the reference they cited.’
      • ‘I can't even find the reference, or else I would have cited that instead.’
      • ‘A major flaw in the book is that the references quoted at the end of the chapters are old.’
      • ‘All this and more could be found at various sources on the Web (some references have been mentioned earlier) and print form.’
      source, information source, citation, authority, credit
      View synonyms
  • 2The use of a source of information in order to ascertain something.

    ‘popular works of reference’
    • ‘a reference work’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Above all, however, this is very much a working collection, virtually every book having within its pages a series of paper slips marking relevant information for easy reference in teaching and research.’
    • ‘In certain cases the true ownership of a cheque may be determined only by reference to agency principles.’
    • ‘Check with your reference librarian for help if you cannot find any of the above.’
    • ‘My reference books have not been helpful in identifying the aircraft in the picture.’
    • ‘In addition, there are no reference books about the exam written in Braille.’
    • ‘The other, more exciting activity was that I found some lost reference books.’
    • ‘Tax is, therefore, usually calculated by reference to the value of the estate.’
    • ‘Consequently, other atomic weights calculated by reference to oxygen also remained debatable.’
    • ‘This question may be answered in a general way by reference to such passages as those just cited.’
    • ‘A number of consensus statements regarding management of opioid therapy are cited for reference.’
    • ‘Participants will be encouraged to work with visual ideas as well as constructing blank books as models for reference.’
    • ‘When you take down a book for reference, how long after you finish with it does it take you to reshelve it?’
    • ‘The nature of that extension can be seen by reference to two passages in the report.’
    • ‘While I understand that most readers will be at their desks with easy access to a hymnal, I would have liked to see each text printed in the book for quick reference.’
    • ‘While This Far by Faith tells good stories, readers who wish to use the book for quick reference may find the book's loose organization a bit frustrating.’
    • ‘Words are gems, stored in a book for quick reference, a treasure chest.’
    • ‘Even if you had read the Times essay that led to this book, there is much more here to enjoy and you will want to keep the book for reference.’
    1. 2.1The sending of a matter for decision or consideration to some authority.
      ‘he demanded the immediate reference of the whole dispute to the United Nations’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He could thus establish his own authority without reference to the Soto or Rinzai patriarchal lines.’
      • ‘This creates a difficulty in relation to powers exercised by local authorities without reference to a court, such as those concerning common lodging-houses.’
      • ‘Few buying decisions are made without reference to others, so it is important to identify the members of the decision-making unit.’
      • ‘This decision was taken without reference to the employees who have served the company so loyally.’
      • ‘The news that decisions had already been made without reference to the JCR provoked a spontaneous student reaction and more than 60 students gathered to demonstrate against the move.’
      • ‘Does he not understand the difference between a decision at the end of a democratic consultative process and a decision taken by a whipped parliamentary group without reference to those affected?’
      • ‘That suggests that BBC Scotland could soon become an independent body, able to make its own decisions on programme making without reference to the board of governors in London.’
      • ‘It seemed that he made that decision on his own, without reference to anyone.’
      • ‘For example, foundation trusts will be able to sell property and retain the proceeds without reference to the strategic health authorities, which currently have a say in the allocation of such proceeds.’
      • ‘Quite simply, it authorized the cabinet to make laws it thought appropriate without reference to or approval by the assembly.’
      • ‘There is further criticism about Kim being allowed to go to work unsupervised, without reference to the High Court, while there were questions over the delay in allowing a public appeal to be issued.’
      • ‘But soon it spread to giving staff the opportunity to design the layout of a new factory, and from there to letting them set production schedules and targets without reference to managers.’
      • ‘There is a rich and diverse range of secular spiritualities, ‘and countless people follow them without reference to religion or any necessary sense of God’.’
      • ‘The parliament makes laws without reference to Westminster, and the executive decides its own spending priorities and policies without reference to the UK cabinet.’
      • ‘Scotland is rightly beginning to build alliances - without reference to London - which could potentially conflict with London's interests.’
      • ‘He has intervened in Africa without reference to the UN.’
      • ‘That is, colonial officials and military men out in Malaya or Africa often made policy without reference to London.’
      referral, transfer, passing on, handover, direction, remission
      View synonyms
  • 3A 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’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It is important to source your tenant from a reliable agency and where possible to get references from previous landlords or even from an employer.’
    • ‘Tenants are also expected to supply references from their employer, bank and previous landlord.’
    • ‘To apply, submit a curriculum vitae and three letters of reference specifically addressing abilities related to the fellowship.’
    • ‘Most letting agents or landlords look for a reference from a previous landlord or an employer reference.’
    • ‘Always check references and speak to previous employers.’
    • ‘Note to would-be forgers: If you're going to make a fake reference from an employer, don't use stupid clip-art pictures.’
    • ‘He stated that relevant weight has not been given to his good teaching record and to letters, testimonials and references from parents appreciating work he has done with their children.’
    • ‘But Mrs Snobar Hanif said they interviewed the tenants personally and only accepted them after obtaining references from previous landlords and checking with police.’
    • ‘If both you and the lender are keen to go ahead, you'll also need to supply things like details of your current mortgage, proof of income, proof of ID, and employers' references.’
    • ‘I think that it would be legitimate to ask for references from somebody's employer and bank.’
    • ‘The Royal College says its report remains confidential to the trust but if Miss Reinbach does apply for another job she will need two references from Scarborough as her previous employer.’
    • ‘Bradford Crown Court heard that Ali was a man of no previous convictions and glowing references were handed in.’
    • ‘She went on to read out glowing references from Reynolds' employers and spoke of his role as a volunteer worker.’
    • ‘The barrister handed in references from Holland's employers, mother and a family friend.’
    • ‘The best way of finding a model tenant is to make sure that you obtain at least two references from previous landlords.’
    • ‘She handed in a reference from her new employer.’
    • ‘She handed in a character reference from his employer.’
    testimonial, character reference, recommendation, good word, backing
    View synonyms
    1. 3.1mainly US A person who agrees to testify to someone's ability or reliability when they apply for a new job.



/ˈref(ə)rəns/ /ˈrɛf(ə)rəns/

transitive verb

[with object]
  • 1Provide (a book or article) with citations of sources of information.

    • ‘each chapter is referenced, citing literature up to 1990’
  • 2Mention or refer to.

    • ‘the media referenced our association in almost 40 articles’



/ˈref(ə)rəns/ /ˈrɛf(ə)rəns/


    for future reference
    • For use at a later date.

      ‘she lodged this idea in the back of her mind for future reference’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘This will serve as a DNA library for storing precious fragments for future reference, duplication, and genome reassembly.’
      • ‘Heath habitually brings a camera with him when responding to an emergency, to document the scene for future reference.’
      • ‘They memorize and even document these for future reference.’
      • ‘Every month clip articles from magazines if you really want to keep them for future reference and immediately place in the correct folder.’
      • ‘Both articles are long, too long for a casual visit - so either bookmark them, or bookmark this post for future reference.’
      • ‘But in any case, thank you for your advice, I really appreciate it and I will keep it for future reference.’
      • ‘The report was initially an internal report produced in order to inform the council on lessons learnt at each stage of the project for future reference.’
    in reference to
    • In relation to; as regards.

      ‘I assume this to be in reference to an incident that occurred in mid 2003’
      • ‘war can only be explained with reference to complex social factors’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘If this is not possible, flooring for a room should be chosen with reference to what already exists or to what is planned in other areas.’
      • ‘He used that phrase with reference to only two other mountains on this mountainous coast.’
      • ‘I waited for more information with reference to national and community programs but to no avail.’
      • ‘They will present their work and experience with reference to the design of tall buildings.’
      • ‘You never hear any criticism with reference to those times gone by because the system worked.’
      • ‘We may make more explicit a point resulting from what we last said with reference to that question.’
      • ‘What I wrote earlier this year in reference to North Korea holds with equal force in dealing with Cuba.’
    terms of reference
    • The scope and limitations of an activity or area of knowledge.

      • ‘the judge will present a plan outlining the inquiry's terms of reference’