Definition of preferential in US English:



  • 1Of or involving preference or partiality; constituting a favor or privilege.

    ‘preferential interest rates may be offered to employees’
    ‘preferential trade terms’
    • ‘The targets, revealed this weekend, are a response to the government drive to counter what it sees as the preferential treatment of ‘privileged’ public school pupils.’
    • ‘I do remember examining my feelings at that time and wondering whether or not my parents' natural son had received any preferential treatment and I was forced to the conclusion that, if my parents had a favourite at all, then it was me.’
    • ‘At the same time, banks are continuing to strive to attract clients through lower interest rates and other preferential offers.’
    • ‘This proposition would ban discrimination or preferential treatment of ethnic and gender groups by California public agencies.’
    • ‘It indicates a biased approach and preferential treatment in favour of individuals and groups.’
    • ‘The loan has a state guarantee and a preferential interest rate of 7.5 per cent.’
    • ‘To draw more overseas Chinese to work in the province, the provincial authorities have constituted a series of preferential policies for the schooling of the returnees' children.’
    • ‘Customers are also often attracted to such accounts by the promise of preferential interest rates.’
    • ‘Favourable or preferential treatment of nephews suggests that inheritance does not have to wait until the decease of the putative benefactor.’
    • ‘Discrimination is about different, often preferential treatment, and although I love both my parents and my partner, I give preferential treatment to my partner.’
    • ‘They have enormous buying power and consequently get preferential treatment from suppliers.’
    • ‘Since the start of 2005 most banks have started offering preferential interest rates.’
    • ‘Domestic politics would be purged of interest groups vying for preferential treatment.’
    • ‘I had been warned by the chairman of the board, Alan Craig, not to talk to any potential buyers or give any preferential treatment, and I never did.’
    • ‘‘I want to emphasise that I'm not trying to use parliamentary privilege to get preferential treatment or investigation of my specific case,’ he said.’
    special, better, privileged, superior, favoured, advantageous, favourable
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 (of a union shop) giving employment preference to union members.
      ‘a preferential shop’
    2. 1.2 (of voting or an election) in which the voter puts candidates in order of preference.
      • ‘She said she strongly objected to the preferential voting system, which forces voters to cast a ballot in favour of one of the major parties, whose policies are indistinguishable.’
      • ‘It became a secret ballot with preferential voting.’
      • ‘This is done so that parties can ‘direct’ their preferential votes.’
      • ‘In 1978 Haya was elected a member of the Constituent Assembly with the highest preferential votes.’
      • ‘About 60,000 party members are eligible to vote for the leader in a one-ballot, preferential system.’
      • ‘The US presidential system is not preferential, so votes for one candidate cannot flow on to another if he is not elected.’
      • ‘They get my vote through the preferential system via the Greens and the Democrats.’
      • ‘Given a choice with optional preferential voting, voters expressed a primary vote intention, but then did not give preferences.’
      • ‘The preferential vote has allowed the Town Party to become a niche party.’
      • ‘In 1920, it introduced compulsory preferential voting in Hare-Clark elections.’
      • ‘These elections were based on preferential voting-voters had to indicate their first three preferences among the competing parties.’
      • ‘Seven Australian parliamentary chambers are elected using proportional representation, and four use optional preferential voting.’
      • ‘In the subsequent election each candidate polled exactly the same number of votes, ensuring the need to test Trinity's complex preferential voting procedure.’
    3. 1.3 (of a creditor) having a claim on the receipt of payment from a debtor which will be met before those of other creditors.
      • ‘As an unsecured creditor, your claim would be dealt with after the claims of preferential and secured creditors.’
      • ‘However, the meeting may approve such a proposal or modification with the concurrence of the preferential creditor concerned.’
      • ‘As preferential creditors the Inland Revenue will receive about half the £77,000 they are owed but the Council, as unsecured creditors, will get nothing.’
      • ‘However, if it proves impossible to rescue the company, secured or preferential creditors such as the Inland Revenue and employees, will be paid first from any remaining assets.’
      • ‘Employees of the firm are listed as preferential creditors, and are due to be paid almost €130,000 from the insolvency fund.’
      • ‘It showed that the assets were sufficient to cover the amount of the debts assigned to the firm and all the potential claims of the preferential creditors.’
      • ‘He said that preferential creditors, including the Revenue, would be paid first, followed by secured creditors, including debentures and any property costs.’
      • ‘The preferential creditors are company staff who are owed €61,500 in pay arrears for March, April and May.’
      • ‘The firm, a preferential creditor, is owed €113,000 for its examinership fees.’
      • ‘Over six years ago, the Association put forward proposals, which would rank farmers as preferential creditors for agricultural produce supplied by them.’
      • ‘I accept that a print service provider would not fall into the category of a preferential creditor.’
      • ‘It will amend the Companies Act to make redundancy payments a preferential claim when a company goes into liquidation or receivership.’
      • ‘As a preferential creditor, the Revenue Commissioners received the total assets, but was still left with a loss of more than €41,000.’


Mid 19th century: from preference, on the pattern of differential.