reference Meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary Cambridge dictionaries logo
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Meaning of “reference” in the English Dictionary

"reference" in British English

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referencenoun

uk   /ˈref.ər.əns/ us   /ˈref.ɚ.əns/
  • reference noun (MENTION)

B2 [C or U] a mention of something: Knowing what had happened, I avoided making any reference to (= mentioning) weddings.formal I am writing with/in reference to (= in connection with) your letter of 15 March.

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  • reference noun (IN A PIECE OF WRITING)

B2 [C] a writer or a book, article, etc. that is mentioned in a piece of writing, showing you where particular information was found
[C] abbreviation ref in a business letter, a number that tells you who to speak to or where to look for more information: In all future letters on this subject, please use/quote our reference JW/155/C.

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  • You need to make a list of all your references.
  • There was a long list of references at the end of the article.
  • Where are your references?
  • reference noun (LETTER)

B2 [C] a letter that is written by someone who knows you, to describe you and say if you are suitable for a job, course, etc.: My old headteacher said he would write/give me a glowing (= very good) reference.

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(Definition of reference from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"reference" in American English

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referencenoun

us   /ˈref·ər·əns, ˈref·rəns/
  • reference noun (MENTIONING)

[C/U] the act of mentioning someone or something in speech or writing: [U] Avoid making any reference to his accident.
  • reference noun (STATEMENT)

[C] a written statement describing your character and abilities, or the person who writes this statement: She has excellent references. Could I list you as a reference on my application?
  • reference noun (CONNECTION)

[U] the act of making a connection between subjects: His comments were in reference to a stupid question someone asked.
  • reference noun (AUTHORITY)

[C/U] a text that records facts and information: [C] There is a list of the author’s references at the end of the article.
[C/U] A reference is also the act of looking at a text: [U] These books are for reference only and may not be checked out of the library.
[C/U] A reference can also mean a reference book: [C] What references did you use for this research?
(Definition of reference from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"reference" in Business English

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referencenoun

uk   /ˈrefərəns/ us  
[C] abbreviation ref COMMUNICATIONS, WORKPLACE a set of numbers or letters on a document such as a business letter, used so that people know what it relates to: give/quote/use a reference In all future letters on this subject, please quote our reference JW/155/C/2011. Please write with a full CV quoting the appropriate reference number.
[C] HR a letter that is written by someone who knows you, often a previous employer, to describe you and say if you are suitable for a job, course, etc.: give/write sb a reference His former boss gave him an excellent reference. She has good references and an acceptable CV.check/follow up/take up references We still need to recall the candidate for a second interview, and follow up references. a reference check
Compare
also personal reference, UK also referee HR a person who knows you and who is willing to write a reference for you: give/list/name sb as a reference He said he was happy for me to list him as a reference.
[C or U] a mention of something: make reference to sth He didn't make any reference to the new product in his report.
[C or U] comparison with something: reference to sth Comparative advertising is where one trader advertises his goods by reference to another trader's goods.
[C] a statement that gives information about the financial situation and business history of a company, an organization, etc.: Check payment records of prospective customers through league tables, status agency reports, bank or trade references twice a year.
[U] the action of looking at a book, piece of paper, etc. in order to find information or help: reference to sth He made the whole speech without reference to the notes in front of him. reference books/works/publishing
for (future) reference
in order to be looked at for information in future: You should keep the prospectus on file for future reference.
for future reference, ...
used when telling someone something so they know about it in future: For future reference, he prefers to be addressed as 'Mr.'
in/with reference to sb/sth formal
used, especially in business letters, to say what you are writing or talking about: I am writing with reference to your letter of 15 March.
terms of reference
the subjects or questions which a study or report is intended to include: The inquiry's terms of reference included the consideration of pay and conditions in the fire service.

referenceverb [T]

uk   /ˈrefərəns/ us  
to refer to someone or something: He spoke about his ambitious plans, referencing writer and motivator Dale Carnegie. See Diagram 3.1 referenced above.
(Definition of reference from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
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