If you are writing a report for school, you are probably relying on a few references, or sources, for information. Or, if you are applying for a job, you may count on a reference from a previous boss to help you get the job.

Good references are sometimes necessary to either get a job or to get a job done well. A reference is someone you can rely on to put in a good word for you when applying for a job. Or, a reference might be an outside source you use in a research paper. Don't forget: if you reference outside work, be sure to mention it in your bibliography or "list of references" so you don't get accused of plagiarism. Give credit where it's due.

Primary Meanings of reference

the act of referring or consulting
a book to which you can refer for authoritative facts
refer to
a formal recommendation by a former employer to a potential future employer describing the person's qualifications and dependability
the relation between a word or phrase and the object or idea it refers to
Full Definitions of reference

n the act of referring or consulting

reference to an encyclopedia produced the answer”
Type of:
something done (usually as opposed to something said)

n an indicator that orients you generally

“it is used as a reference for comparing the heating and the electrical energy involved”
point of reference, reference point
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bench mark, benchmark
a surveyor's mark on a permanent object of predetermined position and elevation used as a reference point
a mark showing the boundary of a piece of land
lubber line, lubber's line, lubber's mark, lubber's point
a fixed line on a ship's compass indicating its heading
mark, target
a reference point to shoot at
white line
a white stripe in the middle of a road to mark traffic lanes
bright-colored; a float attached by rope to the seabed to mark channels in a harbor or underwater hazards
mearstone, meerestone, merestone
an old term for a landmark that consisted of a pile of stones surmounted by an upright slab
a target used in archery
a funnel-shaped device towed as a target by an airplane
acoustic buoy
a buoy that can be heard (at night)
can, can buoy
a buoy with a round bottom and conical top
conical buoy, nun, nun buoy
a buoy resembling a cone
spar buoy
a buoy resembling a vertical log
Type of:
a signal for attracting attention

n a remark that calls attention to something or someone

“the speaker made several references to his wife”
passing reference or indirect mention
reference to things past
the practice of casually mentioning important people in order to impress your listener
Type of:
comment, input, remark
a statement that expresses a personal opinion or belief or adds information

n (computer science) the code that identifies where a piece of information is stored

address, computer address
argument, parameter
(computer science) a reference or value that is passed to a function, procedure, subroutine, command, or program
URL, uniform resource locator, universal resource locator
the address of a web page on the world wide web
Type of:
code, computer code
(computer science) the symbolic arrangement of data or instructions in a computer program or the set of such instructions

n a book to which you can refer for authoritative facts

“he contributed articles to the basic reference work on that topic”
book of facts, reference book, reference work
Oxford English Dictionary
an unabridged dictionary constructed on historical principles
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cookbook, cookery book
a book of recipes and cooking directions
instruction book
a book of directions for using or operating some piece of equipment
source book
a collection of historically important documents published together as a book
a reference book containing words (usually with their meanings)
enchiridion, handbook, vade mecum
a concise reference book providing specific information about a subject or location
an alphabetical list of names and addresses
annual, yearbook, yearly
a reference book that is published regularly once every year
atlas, book of maps, map collection
a collection of maps in book form
cyclopaedia, cyclopedia, encyclopaedia, encyclopedia
a reference work (often in several volumes) containing articles on various topics (often arranged in alphabetical order) dealing with the entire range of human knowledge or with some particular specialty
dictionary, lexicon
a reference book containing an alphabetical list of words with information about them
a list of proper nouns naming persons or places
a listing of the words used in some enterprise
gloss, glossary
an alphabetical list of technical terms in some specialized field of knowledge; usually published as an appendix to a text on that field
synonym finder, thesaurus
a book containing a classified list of synonyms
a small handbook
a book regarded as authoritative in its field
guide, guidebook
something that offers basic information or instruction
ready reckoner, reckoner
a handbook of tables used to facilitate computation
phone book, phonebook, telephone book, telephone directory
a directory containing an alphabetical list of telephone subscribers and their telephone numbers
an annual publication containing tabular information in a particular field or fields arranged according to the calendar of a given year
almanac, farmer's calendar
an annual publication including weather forecasts and other miscellaneous information arranged according to the calendar of a given year
an annual publication containing astronomical tables that give the positions of the celestial bodies throughout the year
dialect atlas, linguistic atlas
an atlas showing the distribution of distinctive linguistic features
book of knowledge
an elementary encyclopedia dealing with general knowledge
blue book
a register of persons who are socially prominent
Type of:
a written work or composition that has been published (printed on pages bound together)

n a publication (or a passage from a publication) that is referred to

“he carried an armful of references back to his desk”
Type of:
a copy of a printed work offered for distribution

n a short note recognizing a source of information or of a quoted passage

acknowledgment, citation, cite, credit, mention, quotation
photo credit
a note acknowledging the source of a published photograph
cross-index, cross-reference
a reference at one place in a work to information at another place in the same work
Type of:
annotation, notation, note
a comment or instruction (usually added)

v refer to

“he referenced his colleagues' work”
Type of:
compose, indite, pen, write
produce a literary work

n a formal recommendation by a former employer to a potential future employer describing the person's qualifications and dependability

character, character reference
Type of:
good word, recommendation, testimonial
something that recommends (or expresses commendation of) a person or thing as worthy or desirable

n the relation between a word or phrase and the object or idea it refers to

“he argued that reference is a consequence of conditioned reflexes”
Type of:
meaning, substance
the idea that is intended

n the most direct or specific meaning of a word or expression; the class of objects that an expression refers to

denotation, extension
Type of:
meaning, substance
the idea that is intended

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