Definition of ref in English:



  • (in sports) a referee.

    • ‘It was hit hard enough to decapitate him, but the ref hasn't noticed and he's given a goal kick.’
    • ‘When I'm in a game, the refs tell us to tuck in our jerseys so we look like ball players.’
    • ‘I remember a couple of occasions when the ref stopped the game for no apparent reason and called Nelson over.’
    • ‘It was hard to determine if these young refs were too quick with the whistle or if the poor play resulted in a lot of silly fouls.’
    • ‘The spokesman added that the absence of wives would make it easier for refs and assistant refs to mix socially in the hotel the night before.’
    • ‘It's neither here nor there, however, because the ref's blown up for a goal kick.’
    • ‘They know the foreign players, the foreign refs and the foreign rules that baffle Team USA.’
    • ‘It makes the other refs so mad, they filed a complaint with the league about him.’
    • ‘Well a video ref like they have in Rugby League has been spoken of, but nobody seems brave enough to make the first step.’
    • ‘That's the real issue here - league refs never have been able to handle truly big men.’
    • ‘I can understand how the ref didn't spot it, but the linesman must just have been asleep.’
    • ‘Before departing, he had a few choice words for the refs and his opponent.’
    • ‘With time running out and Salford supporters screaming at the ref to blow for full time, Duffy made another break.’
    • ‘The refs have been taking a lot of heat in the past couple of weeks, and they have to be more decisive with their flag calls.’
    • ‘The replay is shown over and over again before the video ref decides that Owen was very marginally offside.’
    • ‘I actually found myself on the verge of boycotting the playoffs because of the refs.’
    • ‘The amount of abuse that some players give the refs must make refs feel like sending players off just to shut them up.’
    • ‘Often this is seen by both players and fans as the assistant ref not knowing what offside is.’
    • ‘It can happen when you play away from home that a ref can think he's got to even the game up when he's already sent another player off.’
    • ‘To believe you have control over the players, the refs or the game is a fallacy.’
    umpire, judge, referee's assistant, assistant referee, linesman, line judge, adjudicator, arbitrator, arbiter, mediator
    View synonyms


[WITH OBJECT]informal
  • Act as referee in (a game or match).

    • ‘Unless Jones is assured that Nady will ref that fight, don't hold your breath.’
    • ‘If I was reffing this match he'd be on his fourth yellow card by now.’
    • ‘Larry Davidson related a story to me from many years back in a game that Larry was reffing.’
    • ‘Tom explained the situation and asked Dave if he would ref the game for him, and Dave agreed.’
    • ‘But, we have to accept that because refs are humans, unless that is you want robots to ref the matches.’
    • ‘Last spring Tom reffed a game and called 30 fouls in the first half, by himself.’
    • ‘"I know that refs go out there and try to do their best but if that was his best he should be reffing down at Hackney Marshes."’
    • ‘Steve Clark will be reffing the game.’
    • ‘Mills Lane was given the honor - if you can call it an honor to ref a fight where one fighter would actually bite off the ears of the other.’
    • ‘Just as Honiss reffed the away team as the transgressors, in Paris Peter Marshall saw wrongdoing in the Scots' approach to ruck and maul.’
    • ‘I pleaded with him to ref our game just so I could show him that our team wasn't nearly as bad as they are stereotyped to be.’
    • ‘Some people ref as a career, some are volunteers.’
    • ‘We had a big tournament game coming up and I found out that Rob was going to ref our game.’
    • ‘Because Rob had reffed at least 15 of our games, I knew his routine.’
    • ‘Nick Matthew reffed the first match with almost no conflicts.’
    • ‘"But if I'm not mistaken, I think this Saturday we have the guy that reffed us down in Lydney and over in Wharfedale, and that concerns me."’
    • ‘I reffed him a few times and he was also a neighbour of mine.’
    • ‘The sad part is, he has reffed at least 15 of our games.’
    • ‘I reffed it the way Fifa wanted it reffed.’
    • ‘Special thanks to Stella Lui for reffing football games with me and to all the teams for playing hard on the grid iron.’


Late 19th century: abbreviation.