Definition of preference in US English:



  • 1A greater liking for one alternative over another or others.

    ‘he chose a clock in preference to a watch’
    ‘a preference for long walks and tennis over jogging’
    • ‘As late as the 1960s, children at school had their knuckles rapped, or even their hand tied behind their back, if they showed a preference for the left.’
    • ‘Europeans such as Mr. Bruni have long had a preference for fixed-income investments over stock.’
    • ‘The researchers also believe there is a genetic correlation between a preference for alcohol and a taste for sweets.’
    • ‘His preference is for fly fishing, but he is equally comfortable with casting or spinning tackle on board.’
    • ‘Well, although I'll hazard the guess that Paris will win, I think I'll express a preference for London!’
    • ‘In addition, the Asian style of diplomacy typically shows a preference for dialog over binding decision-making.’
    • ‘In doing so he demonstrates a clear preference of respectability above passion.’
    • ‘But a new study has found foetuses showing a preference for one side over the other usually retain it when after they are born.’
    • ‘Very often people express a preference for planting broadleaves.’
    • ‘Club players have a preference for Bank Holiday weekends to be kept free of fixtures thus enabling them to take a weekend off with family or friends.’
    • ‘Both of them expressed a preference for an alternative chair person.’
    • ‘What happens if they put down a non-grammar school as their first preference, but also enter their child for the admissions test at our school?’
    • ‘Some people have a preference for the city, but quite a lot do not, and they deserve a choice.’
    • ‘Creative Commons licenses help people express a preference for sharing their work - on their own terms.’
    liking, partiality, predilection, proclivity, fondness, taste, inclination, leaning, bias, bent, penchant, predisposition, desire, wish
    rather than, instead of, in place of, sooner than, above, before, over
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    1. 1.1 A thing preferred.
      ‘my musical preferences are blues and swing’
      • ‘There are no equivalent varieties in the UK or Europe where consumers have a preference for potatoes with low dry matter.’
      • ‘My personal preference is for the blue one and, even as a fan of boring beige boxes, I'll admit I think it looks great.’
      • ‘Waterbed preference during the coldest temperatures may be enhanced by the ability of water to hold and save heat.’
      • ‘He and his colleagues had already shown that newborn chicks had a preference for objects shaped like seeds.’
      • ‘His only hobbies and recreations were those of her preference.’
      • ‘Mass entertainment is a commodity as any other and consumer preferences and affordability should play a part here too.’
      • ‘Still, he's reluctant to draw any hard and fast lines between musical preference and student performance.’
      • ‘I cannot see that this represents anything but a preference for barbarism.’
      • ‘These students want to identify themselves through their musical preferences.’
      • ‘Office seekers in Malton often declared a preference for ground floor accommodation with spaces for 50 cars outside the window.’
      • ‘The legs of his pants end above the tops of his shoes, a fashion preference dictated by the hours he spends ankle-deep in wet grass.’
      • ‘He strove to reach a balance between the musical preferences of fans and the band's own artistic pursuits.’
      favourite, first choice, top of the list, choice, selection, pick
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    2. 1.2 Favor shown to one person or thing over another or others.
      ‘preference is given to those who make a donation’
      • ‘Rather, it was the behavioral aspect of prey preference that influenced stability.’
      • ‘But this was his first statement of political preference.’
      • ‘Why did girls show such a strong brand preference?’
      • ‘Tutors who are familiar with the Secondary School Curriculum and who are proficient in Irish and Maths will be given preference.’
      • ‘In addition, we will give preference to articles and essays submitted under 32,000 words in length.’
      • ‘He enrolled in a journalism course, but when there were assignments to be done he felt he had to give preference to his poetry writing, and left the course.’
      • ‘The committee would hope to give preference to those who have not been to Lourdes before but all names will be accepted for consideration and placed on a list.’
      • ‘It must be remembered that most infants show no lateral preference in the first few years of life.’
      • ‘And what about differences between women, across class, ethnicity, sexual preference, age and so on?’
      • ‘He said the end of deference and preference did not mean society did not have any rules.’
      • ‘The most popular of the ideas put forward by residents were a coffee shop and bakery, the coffee shop registering almost 100 letters of preference.’
      • ‘Across cultures, humans have a strong right-hand preference, reportedly manifest for at least the past 5000 years.’
      • ‘To me, the main question is: Is religion being treated equally, or is it being given special preference?’
      • ‘The one great flaw in the present set up is preference cannot be given by governors to pupils from the borough because the Greenwich Judgement precludes this.’
      • ‘The spokesman said that the recommendations of this committee in all religious affairs, major or minor will be given preference.’
      priority, favour, precedence, advantage, preferential treatment, favoured treatment, favouritism
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  • 2Law
    A prior right or precedence, especially in connection with the payment of debts.

    ‘debts owed to the community should be accorded a preference’
    • ‘That must be so whether the preference took the form of the payment of a debt or the grant of a security.’
    • ‘If the Court is against us on preferences, then those credits come back into our loan account.’
    • ‘The payment had the effect of conferring a preference, priority or advantage on those creditors over the other creditors.’
    precedence, greater importance, precedency, pre-eminence, first place, highest place, predominance, primacy, the lead, weighting, weight
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Late Middle English (in the sense ‘promotion’): from Old French, from medieval Latin praeferentia, from Latin praeferre ‘carry in front’ (see prefer).