Definition of interfere in English:



  • 1Prevent (a process or activity) from continuing or being carried out properly.

    ‘a job would interfere with his studies’
    • ‘When one or more of these are not working properly, it interferes with the proper working of internal organs.’
    • ‘Questions need to be asked about whether there is a way to shorten the process without interfering with justice.’
    • ‘I also don't see how the exchange interfered with the process.’
    • ‘Many universities report that they instituted the zones to protect free speech rights and prevent demonstrations from interfering with other campus activities.’
    • ‘This will prevent other processes from interfering with our server while it is actually in the process of delivering a page.’
    • ‘The poll found one in five adults suffers from fatigue that interferes with routine activities several times a week.’
    • ‘There is a lot of cynicism about political contributions interfering with the process, and with good reason.’
    • ‘Bankrupting a city and interfering with its commercial activities can have big impacts, you know.’
    • ‘This means the members' hockey activities do not interfere with their jobs or education.’
    • ‘They felt his personal views, such as that homosexuality was a sin, would interfere with his ability to carry out the job.’
    impede, obstruct, get in the way of, stand in the way of, hinder, be a hindrance to, inhibit, restrict, restrain, constrain, hamper, handicap, cramp, check, block, frustrate, thwart, baulk, hold back, hold up
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    1. 1.1(of a thing) strike against (something) when working; get in the way of.
      ‘the rotors are widely separated and do not interfere with one another’
      • ‘Something I found curious was the fact that to fit in some audio headers where the PCI slots were to be placed, and to stop the cards from interfering with the header, the pins were bent at a 90 degree angle.’
      • ‘It will also interfere with electronic ignition systems and stop vehicles.’
      • ‘The developers must also determine how to control magnetic fields in each memory cell, to stop the fields from interfering with their neighbors and creating errors.’
      • ‘Differential pairs have to be used, and that means having to add shielding around the pins and often using extra pins to provide round planes to stop the signals interfering with each other through crosstalk at these speeds.’
      • ‘This is important because I want to lower the 5030 below the bar when I'm launching from the cart and my bridle would normally interfere with any instruments on the base bar.’
    2. 1.2Handle or adjust (something) without permission, especially so as to cause damage.
      ‘he admitted interfering with a van’
      • ‘He once threatened me with a knife after I stopped him interfering with a vehicle left in by a customer.’
      • ‘It is stated that any person who tampers or interferes with any aircraft or its equipment commits an offence and will be liable to a fine not exceeding $5,000.’
      • ‘The teenager must not interfere with, damage or take without consent any vehicle or any other property.’
      • ‘This year alone he has been charged with arson, criminal damage, interfering with a car and two counts of common assault.’
      • ‘She was arrested and charged with criminal damage, assault, interfering with motor vehicles, aggravated trespass and harassment, and causing alarm and distress.’
      • ‘Wohler's criminal record included offences of going equipped for theft, criminal damage, aggravated vehicle taking, interfering with a vehicle and disqualified driving.’
      • ‘Ballast and a lump of concrete had been placed on the line and the youngsters had been seen throwing stones while running on the tracks and interfering with signalling equipment.’
      • ‘She sentenced Cradden to six months imprisonment for malicious damage to a car and a further three months for interfering with a car, both to run consecutively.’
      • ‘All seven species of sea turtles are listed as threatened or endangered, so it is illegal to harm or interfere with a sea turtle or its eggs.’
      handle, hold, pick up, move
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    3. 1.3Law Attempt to bribe or intimidate (a witness)
      • ‘Gardai, however, can still prosecute people for obstructing justice or interfering with a witness.’
      • ‘Dr Brewer, who is now retired, is also accused of seeking to interfere with potential witnesses to the Professional Conduct Committee.’
      • ‘The attorney general can take proceedings for contempt of court against anyone who attempts to interfere with a witness.’
      • ‘Woodall and Douglas, 35, formerly of Almsford Oval, Harrogate, deny a charge of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice by interfering with witnesses.’
      • ‘The teenager was given bail on the condition he does not approach or interfere with prosecution witnesses.’
  • 2Take part or intervene in an activity without invitation or necessity.

    ‘she tried not to interfere in her children's lives’
    • ‘Ms Moylan told the Herald: ‘My personal view is that the law should not interfere in this.’’
    • ‘The relevant people should not make a fuss and should not interfere in business deals for political reasons.’
    • ‘Starring Sally Phillips as Clare, the control freak who likes nothing better than interfering in other people's lives, this series finds her still struggling to control both her professional and private life.’
    • ‘We've interfered in their lives, their economies and everything, and now because it suits, we say that we cannot interfere in their internal affairs.’
    • ‘Some say that it is not right for us to interfere in Austrian politics.’
    • ‘He is said to have added, ‘We have to preserve this country by respecting the professionals and not interfere in their work.’’
    • ‘Two, I don't interfere in my brother's professional life, just as he doesn't interfere in my political life.’
    • ‘‘We will always be open and helpful,’ he said, expressing hope that the Attorney General's Office would not interfere in the matter.’
    • ‘This, of course, does not stop her noseying around, interfering and gossiping to her heart's content, especially to her completely hen-pecked hubby Norman.’
    • ‘He is good at standing back and not interfering too much, just being there as a shoulder to cry on if I need it.’
    • ‘But she'd promised herself she'd never interfere in a situation like that - and she didn't.’
    • ‘Ensure the judiciary are not in a position to interfere in matters National Security.’
    • ‘‘Let me be clear, the international community is sending the force to assist the Afghans, not to interfere in their affairs,’ he said.’
    • ‘But if it tries not to interfere in the affairs of another country it is seen as sacrificing a life.’
    • ‘We will not allow anyone to interfere in our internal affairs.’
    • ‘Ida Willis is a no-nonsense, interfering housekeeper whose temperament is ill-suited to her clients.’
    • ‘The Television New Zealand Act specifically prevents me from interfering in the day-to-day operations of broadcasting, including programming decisions.’
    • ‘He assured them he would not interfere in their affairs.’
    • ‘She is the archetypal interfering Jewish mother, and wastes little time in exerting her influence over the new occupants.’
    • ‘He added: ‘It strikes me that it also goes against the constantly stated commitment to not interfere in the admissions processes of universities.’’
    meddlesome, meddling, intrusive, intruding, prying, probing, nosy, inquisitive, over-curious, over-interested, busybody
    nosy-parker, snoopy, snooping
    obtrusive, busy
    butt into, barge into, pry into, nose into, be nosy about, intrude into, intervene in, get involved in, intercede in, encroach on, impinge on, impose oneself on
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  • 3Physics
    (of light or other electromagnetic waveforms) mutually act upon each other and produce interference.

    ‘light pulses interfere constructively in a fiber to emit a pulse’
    • ‘It also shows that even single electrons - proceeding one by one - interfere.’
    • ‘The reason for the formation of the shockwave is that the sound waves emitted by the airplane interfere constructively on the surface of this cone.’
    • ‘This phase shift alters the way the electron trajectories interfere, and therefore affects the electronic properties of the material.’
    • ‘Light waves reflected from the metal flakes at different levels within the ink layer interfere constructively or destructively with each other.’
    • ‘If sound waves couldn't interfere constructively, you wouldn't be able to hear anyone else talk while you speak.’
    1. 3.1Cause interference to a broadcast radio signal.
      • ‘No CB radios or cell phones are allowed on the sites as well, since they might also interfere.’
      • ‘Satellite engineers also designed antennas that did not interfere with systems orbiting nearby and recommended adequate separation between satellites to prevent signals from interfering.’
      • ‘Paper items are considered easier to tag because the products don't interfere as much with radio waves.’
      • ‘Coase in 1959 concluded that the problem was that signals interfere.’
      • ‘In this way, frequencies can be re-used in other cell clusters, allowing far more users onto the airwaves without any risk of their signals interfering.’
      • ‘Tunnels and nearby buildings can interfere and completely block signals.’
      • ‘I used to listen to John Peel in the late seventies and early eighties when radio one was still on AM only and you had to tune it exactly or you got Radio Moscow interfering.’
  • 4British Sexually molest or assault (someone, especially a child or young person) (used euphemistically)

    • ‘Both women were naked and Diane had been sexually interfered with.’
    • ‘The next day, Ms. Bess told the deceased that he had interfered with her while she was sleeping, which wasn't true.’
    • ‘The girl told her the defendant had been touching her, interfering with her and groping her.’
    • ‘The evidence also indicated the deceased, a single woman, was sexually interfered with by her attacker.’
    • ‘Over the following years, Malcolm learned that his father had sexually interfered with some of his sisters.’
    • ‘The guards told her that they had caught, or almost caught, detainees sexually interfering with the child.’
    sexually abuse, abuse, sexually assault, indecently assault, assault, molest, grope
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  • 5(of a horse) knock one foot against the fetlock of another leg.

    • ‘When she was leading her horse from the corral the other horse interfered, causing the lead rope to tighten around Keely's hand, resulting in a serious injury.’
    • ‘If you have any concerns about how your equine friend will behave, or if he has shown a penchant for interfering or stepping on himself while moving, you may want to put protective boots or wraps on his legs.’


Late Middle English: from Old French s'entreferir strike each other from entre- between + ferir (from Latin ferire to strike).