Definition of ref in US English:



  • (in sports) a referee.

    • ‘Often this is seen by both players and fans as the assistant ref not knowing what offside is.’
    • ‘Before departing, he had a few choice words for the refs and his opponent.’
    • ‘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's neither here nor there, however, because the ref's blown up for a goal kick.’
    • ‘That's the real issue here - league refs never have been able to handle truly big men.’
    • ‘The replay is shown over and over again before the video ref decides that Owen was very marginally offside.’
    • ‘They know the foreign players, the foreign refs and the foreign rules that baffle Team USA.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I can understand how the ref didn't spot it, but the linesman must just have been asleep.’
    • ‘The amount of abuse that some players give the refs must make refs feel like sending players off just to shut them up.’
    • ‘I actually found myself on the verge of boycotting the playoffs because of the refs.’
    • ‘Well a video ref like they have in Rugby League has been spoken of, but nobody seems brave enough to make the first step.’
    • ‘With time running out and Salford supporters screaming at the ref to blow for full time, Duffy made another break.’
    • ‘It makes the other refs so mad, they filed a complaint with the league about him.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘To believe you have control over the players, the refs or the game is a fallacy.’
    • ‘It was hit hard enough to decapitate him, but the ref hasn't noticed and he's given a goal kick.’
    • ‘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.’
    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).

    • ‘I reffed him a few times and he was also a neighbour of mine.’
    • ‘We had a big tournament game coming up and I found out that Rob was going to ref our game.’
    • ‘The sad part is, he has reffed at least 15 of our games.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘"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."’
    • ‘Special thanks to Stella Lui for reffing football games with me and to all the teams for playing hard on the grid iron.’
    • ‘"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."’
    • ‘Nick Matthew reffed the first match with almost no conflicts.’
    • ‘If I was reffing this match he'd be on his fourth yellow card by now.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Unless Jones is assured that Nady will ref that fight, don't hold your breath.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Last spring Tom reffed a game and called 30 fouls in the first half, by himself.’
    • ‘Just as Honiss reffed the away team as the transgressors, in Paris Peter Marshall saw wrongdoing in the Scots' approach to ruck and maul.’
    • ‘Some people ref as a career, some are volunteers.’
    • ‘Steve Clark will be reffing the game.’
    • ‘I reffed it the way Fifa wanted it reffed.’
    • ‘But, we have to accept that because refs are humans, unless that is you want robots to ref the matches.’
    • ‘Because Rob had reffed at least 15 of our games, I knew his routine.’


Late 19th century: abbreviation.