American English

Definition of reference noun from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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    mentioning someone or something
  1. 1[countable, uncountable] reference (to somebody/something) a thing you say or write that mentions someone or something else; the act of mentioning someone or something The book is full of references to growing up in India. She made no reference to her illness but only to her future plans. the President's passing reference to (= brief mention of) the end of the war
  2. looking for information
  3. 2[uncountable] the act of looking at something for information Keep the list of numbers near the phone for easy reference. I wrote down the name of the hotel for future reference (= because it might be useful in the future). The library contains many popular works of reference (= reference books).
  4. asking for advice
  5. 3[uncountable] reference (to somebody/something) (formal) the act of asking someone for help or advice The emergency nurse can treat minor injuries without reference to a doctor.
  6. number/word/symbol
  7. 4[countable] (abbreviation ref.) a number, word, or symbol that shows where something is on a map, or where you can find a piece of information The map reference is Y4. Please quote your reference number when making an inquiry.
  8. for new job
  9. 5[countable] a letter written by someone who knows you, giving information about your character and abilities, especially to a new employer We will check references after the interview.
  10. 6[countable] a person who agrees to write a reference, for you, for example when you are applying for a job My previous boss will act as a reference for me.
  11. in book
  12. 7[countable] a note in a book that tells you where a particular piece of information comes from There is a list of references at the end of each chapter. see also cross reference, frame of reference, terms of reference
  13. Idioms
    in/with reference to (formal)
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    used to say what you are talking or writing about With reference to your letter of July 22…
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: reference