Definition of reference in US English:



  • 1The action of mentioning or alluding to something.

    ‘he made reference to the enormous power of the mass media’
    ‘references to Darwinism and evolution’
    • ‘In his introduction, the Prime Minister made reference to this new type of relationship that China and Australia are developing and the significance of his address to Parliament.’
    • ‘Finally, I noticed that a huge number of the stories on Latham's bouts of pancreatitis made reference to how pancreatitis was often triggered by excessive alcohol consumption.’
    • ‘Many of those aimed at youngsters are barely monitored and contain explicit sexual references.’
    • ‘I've written novels which make frequent passing reference to the Soviet Union, Lenin, Trotsky, and communism.’
    • ‘He made reference to turnover rates of 100%, but if an organisation is achieving such rates then it should really be looking at its own operation and not placing blame elsewhere.’
    • ‘One of the poems, written in June 1999, entitled Knocking on Heaven's Door, made reference to ‘one million dollars cash’.’
    • ‘They walked in the direction of the barn as he made reference to meeting her models for the project.’
    • ‘It is clear that both Messier and Bronfman had the TimeWarner / AOL model in mind when they made reference to music unfolding on the Internet.’
    • ‘So Mr Howard made reference to the proposals for off-shore processing of asylum claims, even if that laid him open to charges of pandering to the far-Right's agenda.’
    • ‘She then moved to works of a larger scale and in colour, and in the 1980s made reference to art history, fashion photography, television, horror movies and pornography.’
    • ‘Well, the submissions make a passing reference to the fact that Erasmus was of that opinion, your Honour.’
    • ‘For this reason, their value is often calculated by making reference to the long bond yield.’
    • ‘The extent to which folk medicine, which I've made reference to, is practiced is a measure of the quality of the medical service available in that community.’
    • ‘Peter Mandelson and Robin Cook, the cabinet Europhiles, both made reference to ‘new mechanisms’ for dealing with Europe on the conference fringe.’
    • ‘The title is only passing reference to the Louisville Institute sabbatical that occasioned its writing.’
    • ‘Movie themes and pop culture references appear elsewhere.’
    • ‘The report also made reference to the very good provision in the Speech and Language Centre, which in turn had led to the very good achievement of pupils with speech and communication difficulties.’
    • ‘Peake also made reference to the existence of the National Lotteries Control Board on Duke Street, which lay in close proximity to the Methodist Church just across the road.’
    • ‘The objects used in the installation make specific cultural references.’
    • ‘The discussion from the Junior Group made reference to the fact that Waterford was not as bad as other cities in relation to crime but that there was a concern over pickpockets.’
    mention of, allusion to, comment on, remark about
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    1. 1.1 A mention or citation of a source of information in a book or article.
      • ‘It makes it possible to discover books that have references or sections or chapters that are of interest to you even though the book as a whole may not be.’
      • ‘I haven't put chapter and verse references in my answer to Larry King.’
      • ‘You can search through Bible Gateway's content by entering a keyword or a specific passage reference.’
      • ‘There are almost four hundred references given in the book's concluding section, which is itself an important contribution.’
      • ‘The final section of the book contains over 1,000 references.’
      • ‘The footnote reference to the highlighted passage is the SFEI case.’
      • ‘In addition to these compelling narratives, the chapters include numerous references and a section of reflections, questions, and exercises.’
      • ‘Not that the book lacks citations, references and footnotes.’
      • ‘We also reviewed books, bibliographies, and conference proceedings of related topics as well as citations in these books and articles and references provided by colleagues.’
      • ‘Still I note the obligatory " failure " references in the third paragraph.’
      • ‘That single sentence is the only published reference to the Book I've ever seen.’
      • ‘The many pages of references in all these books show the industry that has gone into them, which would rarely be possible without the academic resources that have supported the first and last.’
      • ‘They're derivative - the top of the tower in the middle reminds of some other building, and unfortunately I loaned out the book that has the reference.’
      • ‘The list of references in this chapter is extensive and up-to-date, as are all the references in this book.’
      • ‘When the subject is larger than could be covered in this general book, references are given.’
      • ‘The bibliography of Chandler's book on Pol Pot's Secret Prison S- 21 stretches to thousands of references, articles and books that have been written on Pol Pot and the prison.’
      • ‘The book had 475 references from diverse sources and provided a common background to a growing community of scientists.’
      • ‘Your Honour does not want the precise page references in the various judgments?’
      • ‘A new book by Amy Reigle Newland, Jan Perree and Robert Schaap - see the book reference on this page - brings a bit more light into his art works.’
      • ‘This state of affairs can be achieved by reading the trade papers for a couple of years, and by reading some of the books mentioned in the references section of this essay.’
    2. 1.2 A book or passage cited with a reference.
      • ‘Do not post messages which are intended to cause a person to be insulted, hated by others without clearly citing the reference.’
      • ‘Additional articles were ascertained through references cited in these publications.’
      • ‘A major flaw in the book is that the references quoted at the end of the chapters are old.’
      • ‘Many primary references for the work cited in this discussion were omitted because of space limitations.’
      • ‘There was no reference cited for this research, so I assume that the research was never published.’
      • ‘Do America's students not know how to correctly cite internet references containing hyphens?’
      • ‘This legend of the fall has often been cited as the main reference for violence against women, either physically or mentally.’
      • ‘In Scripture, the reference is from the book of Job, and it is hotly disputed whether the statement describes accurate doctrine, or is merely a quotation of a character in the story.’
      • ‘And how do you cite your reference for something like that on a bibliography?’
      • ‘The reference table stores the bibliographic information for the references cited during interpretation and compilation.’
      • ‘RJ did a Medline search from 1966 to the present, and both authors examined references cited in commonly used textbooks of medical ethics and clinical research ethics.’
      • ‘Your Honours will see the references in paragraph 9 of our written submissions.’
      • ‘Many sources of reference survive to support this view.’
      • ‘After more than ten years, it is still cited as the main reference on the evolution of neocon foreign policy views.’
      • ‘We conducted an extensive secondary search of references cited in publications identified in the above searches.’
      • ‘As a one-source database reference, the book is essentially complete.’
      • ‘Perhaps Shann could have been more specific for the sake of those readers who do not have the time to seek out all the articles cited as references.’
      • ‘You probably assumed this passage was from a reference on Intelligent Design theory.’
      • ‘I can't even find the reference, or else I would have cited that instead.’
      • ‘Include here all references cited in the text.’
      • ‘A recent Spanish study found that promotional statements made in nearly half of almost 300 advertisements were not supported by the reference they cited.’
      • ‘However, the reference cited for this says something quite different.’
      • ‘All this and more could be found at various sources on the Web (some references have been mentioned earlier) and print form.’
      • ‘Detailed procedures for their use can be found in the books cited in the reference section.’
      • ‘Each chapter includes references at the end, as well as an extended bibliography as an appendix.’
      source, information source, citation, authority, credit
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  • 2The use of a source of information in order to ascertain something.

    ‘popular works of reference’
    as modifier ‘a reference work’
    • ‘In certain cases the true ownership of a cheque may be determined only by reference to agency principles.’
    • ‘When you take down a book for reference, how long after you finish with it does it take you to reshelve it?’
    • ‘In addition, there are no reference books about the exam written in Braille.’
    • ‘The other, more exciting activity was that I found some lost reference books.’
    • ‘My reference books have not been helpful in identifying the aircraft in the picture.’
    • ‘Participants will be encouraged to work with visual ideas as well as constructing blank books as models for reference.’
    • ‘Words are gems, stored in a book for quick reference, a treasure chest.’
    • ‘That work was then put on video and stored as an invaluable source of reference.’
    • ‘The nature of that extension can be seen by reference to two passages in the report.’
    • ‘Above all, however, this is very much a working collection, virtually every book having within its pages a series of paper slips marking relevant information for easy reference in teaching and research.’
    • ‘This question may be answered in a general way by reference to such passages as those just cited.’
    • ‘While This Far by Faith tells good stories, readers who wish to use the book for quick reference may find the book's loose organization a bit frustrating.’
    • ‘Even if you had read the Times essay that led to this book, there is much more here to enjoy and you will want to keep the book for reference.’
    • ‘Check with your reference librarian for help if you cannot find any of the above.’
    • ‘Consequently, other atomic weights calculated by reference to oxygen also remained debatable.’
    • ‘It may be either a market value, if the dog has any, or some special or pecuniary value to the owner, that may be ascertained by reference to the usefulness and services of the dog.’
    • ‘So good is it that I've put it in the sidebar under ‘Information’ for permanent reference.’
    • ‘While I understand that most readers will be at their desks with easy access to a hymnal, I would have liked to see each text printed in the book for quick reference.’
    • ‘A number of consensus statements regarding management of opioid therapy are cited for reference.’
    • ‘Tax is, therefore, usually calculated by reference to the value of the estate.’
    1. 2.1 The sending of a matter for decision or consideration to some authority.
      ‘he demanded the immediate reference of the whole dispute to the United Nations’
      • ‘Does he not understand the difference between a decision at the end of a democratic consultative process and a decision taken by a whipped parliamentary group without reference to those affected?’
      • ‘For example, foundation trusts will be able to sell property and retain the proceeds without reference to the strategic health authorities, which currently have a say in the allocation of such proceeds.’
      • ‘Quite simply, it authorized the cabinet to make laws it thought appropriate without reference to or approval by the assembly.’
      • ‘He could thus establish his own authority without reference to the Soto or Rinzai patriarchal lines.’
      • ‘There is further criticism about Kim being allowed to go to work unsupervised, without reference to the High Court, while there were questions over the delay in allowing a public appeal to be issued.’
      • ‘It seemed that he made that decision on his own, without reference to anyone.’
      • ‘He has intervened in Africa without reference to the UN.’
      • ‘That is, colonial officials and military men out in Malaya or Africa often made policy without reference to London.’
      • ‘There is a rich and diverse range of secular spiritualities, ‘and countless people follow them without reference to religion or any necessary sense of God’.’
      • ‘It is clear the applicant made a deliberate decision, without reference to planning officers, to implement changes.’
      • ‘Scotland is rightly beginning to build alliances - without reference to London - which could potentially conflict with London's interests.’
      • ‘That suggests that BBC Scotland could soon become an independent body, able to make its own decisions on programme making without reference to the board of governors in London.’
      • ‘The parliament makes laws without reference to Westminster, and the executive decides its own spending priorities and policies without reference to the UK cabinet.’
      • ‘We were left to make many decisions without reference to the office back in the city.’
      • ‘The decision was taken without reference to the members who should have been made aware that a funding difficulty existed.’
      • ‘This decision was taken without reference to the employees who have served the company so loyally.’
      • ‘Few buying decisions are made without reference to others, so it is important to identify the members of the decision-making unit.’
      • ‘But soon it spread to giving staff the opportunity to design the layout of a new factory, and from there to letting them set production schedules and targets without reference to managers.’
      • ‘The news that decisions had already been made without reference to the JCR provoked a spontaneous student reaction and more than 60 students gathered to demonstrate against the move.’
      • ‘This creates a difficulty in relation to powers exercised by local authorities without reference to a court, such as those concerning common lodging-houses.’
      referral, transfer, passing on, handover, direction, remission
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  • 3A letter from a previous employer testifying to someone's ability or reliability, used when applying for a new job.

    ‘I was dismissed from the library, but with a good reference’
    • ‘To apply, submit a curriculum vitae and three letters of reference specifically addressing abilities related to the fellowship.’
    • ‘Mr Bradshaw handed in references from a previous employer which spoke of her reliability and honesty.’
    • ‘He stated that relevant weight has not been given to his good teaching record and to letters, testimonials and references from parents appreciating work he has done with their children.’
    • ‘Note to would-be forgers: If you're going to make a fake reference from an employer, don't use stupid clip-art pictures.’
    • ‘But Mrs Snobar Hanif said they interviewed the tenants personally and only accepted them after obtaining references from previous landlords and checking with police.’
    • ‘Most letting agents or landlords look for a reference from a previous landlord or an employer reference.’
    • ‘If both you and the lender are keen to go ahead, you'll also need to supply things like details of your current mortgage, proof of income, proof of ID, and employers' references.’
    • ‘The best way of finding a model tenant is to make sure that you obtain at least two references from previous landlords.’
    • ‘I think that it would be legitimate to ask for references from somebody's employer and bank.’
    • ‘She's really down to earth and has fantastic references from her previous employers.’
    • ‘The Royal College says its report remains confidential to the trust but if Miss Reinbach does apply for another job she will need two references from Scarborough as her previous employer.’
    • ‘She handed in a character reference from his employer.’
    • ‘She went on to read out glowing references from Reynolds' employers and spoke of his role as a volunteer worker.’
    • ‘Always check references and speak to previous employers.’
    • ‘Bradford Crown Court heard that Ali was a man of no previous convictions and glowing references were handed in.’
    • ‘‘I think any employer would want to do a fairly thorough check of references of previous employers of an individual,’ said Mitchell.’
    • ‘It is important to source your tenant from a reliable agency and where possible to get references from previous landlords or even from an employer.’
    • ‘She handed in a reference from her new employer.’
    • ‘Tenants are also expected to supply references from their employer, bank and previous landlord.’
    • ‘The barrister handed in references from Holland's employers, mother and a family friend.’
    testimonial, character reference, recommendation, good word, backing
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    1. 3.1US A person who agrees to testify to someone's ability or reliability when they apply for a new job.


[with object]
  • 1Provide (a book or article) with citations of sources of information.

    ‘each chapter is referenced, citing literature up to 1990’
    • ‘All chapters are well referenced and the information is well supported by an adequate number of tables and illustrations.’
    • ‘The following quotes are from this brief but fully referenced biography of Mussolini: The Mystery of Fascism.’
    • ‘With the exception of the modeling papers, most articles are well referenced with conclusions clearly supported by the data furnished.’
    • ‘Each chapter is heavily referenced and cited within a detailed index.’
    • ‘All these articles contain referenced material or the supporting documents themselves.’
    • ‘It is extensively referenced and provides the scientific evidence for many of the practices and principles of tuberculosis control.’
    • ‘The book is indexed and each of the chapters is referenced, some more extensively than others.’
    • ‘This short but well referenced volume is intended for the general reader.’
    • ‘I really appreciated your well-researched and referenced article on Ashcroft and the separation of church and state.’
    • ‘I wasn't left high and dry as the book is well referenced which led me to the books that shaped his thinking on a variety of topics.’
    • ‘The new book is excellently referenced from sources past and present.’
    • ‘The book is well referenced and indexed, including a listing of cases found throughout the book.’
  • 2Mention or refer to.

    ‘the media referenced our association in almost 40 articles’
    • ‘Such analyses are provided in the articles referenced in the report.’
    • ‘We trust that you will take these facts into consideration in any future articles referencing EDC.’
    • ‘The book references Star Trek, Queer Nation kiss-ins, the writings of Lenin and Max Weber, and the Paris Commune - it's groovy.’
    • ‘The service is undergoing a rapid expansion to 20 or more blogs (as he mentions in the comment referenced above).’
    • ‘Finally, Sontag begins winding down the book by referencing themes that she first asserted in On Photography.’
    • ‘This claim is dated at best and truly misleading, given the other reports and citations referenced in the article.’
    • ‘The activities draw on relevant literature that is referenced throughout the book.’
    • ‘In two of your books you reference the Emerson line, ‘They were born with knives in their brains.’’
    • ‘May I suggest that when referencing an earlier article that you use a fuller citation.’
    • ‘In fact, Croft references the above books in his, giving them praise for their comprehensive coverage of the mountain range.’
    • ‘Most ‘review’ articles reference this study and its method of administration.’
    • ‘In my time spent here I have heard Canada referenced a total of four times in the mainstream media.’
    • ‘In the comments Noah Brier references an article he wrote on this in the fall.’
    • ‘Only one article of the ninety references an academic source.’
    • ‘In the incident your letter references, Backlund did not want to drop his title that night, and it took a couple of hours of cajoling and promising to get him to do the job to the Iron Sheik.’
    • ‘As the number of references that could be cited was limited, we have often referenced review articles rather than original publications.’
    • ‘I only found out about it when a couple of people e-mailed me referencing it - and when a work colleague mentioned it to me in the pub.’
    • ‘Many studies were associated with more than one publication, but we have referenced only the principal publication.’
    • ‘Stark's footnote references the muster book she used for this information.’
    • ‘It references this article published by a lawyer of a spammer.’


  • terms of reference

    • The scope and limitations of an activity or area of knowledge.

      ‘the judge will present a plan outlining the inquiry's terms of reference’
      scope, extent, bounds, confines, limits, range, breadth, width, reach, sweep, purview, span, stretch, spread, horizon
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  • with (or in) reference to

    • In relation to; as regards.

      ‘war can only be explained with reference to complex social factors’
      • ‘He used that phrase with reference to only two other mountains on this mountainous coast.’
      • ‘What I wrote earlier this year in reference to North Korea holds with equal force in dealing with Cuba.’
      • ‘My connection to farming can't be explained with reference to everyday Swiss life.’
      • ‘They will present their work and experience with reference to the design of tall buildings.’
      • ‘Some people try to explain this with reference to some natural phenomenon, such as a solar eclipse.’
      • ‘I waited for more information with reference to national and community programs but to no avail.’
      • ‘I write with reference to letters in the Guardian recently regarding road cleaning or, more precisely, the lack of it.’
      • ‘We may make more explicit a point resulting from what we last said with reference to that question.’
      • ‘If this is not possible, flooring for a room should be chosen with reference to what already exists or to what is planned in other areas.’
      • ‘You never hear any criticism with reference to those times gone by because the system worked.’
      apropos, with regard to, regarding, as regards, with respect to, on the subject of, in the matter of, re
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