Referring To: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
July 31, 2023

The idiom "referring to" means to mention, indicate, or relate to someone or something. It can also mean looking up information in a source or directing someone to a different place or person for help, support, or action.

In short:

  • “Referring to” is an idiom that has different meanings depending on the context.
  • It can mean mentioning, indicating, relating to, looking up, or directing.

What Does "Referring To" Mean?

The idiom "referring to" has several meanings that depend on how it is used in a sentence. But the most significant purpose of the phrase is "to mention or make a reference to someone or something."

Other interchangeable meanings of "referring to ":

  • To indicate, signify, or point to someone or something.
  • To look at or turn to something as a source of information or support.
  • To direct someone to someone or something for help, support, or action.
  • To look up information in a source.

Where Does "Referring To" Come From?

The idiom "referring to" comes from the verb "refer," which has its roots in Latin. The word "refer" is derived from the Latin word "referre," which means "to bring back" or "to report." The word "referre" itself is composed of two parts: "re-," which means "back," and "ferre," which means "to bear" or "to carry."

The verb "refer" was first used in English in the 14th century with the meaning "to send back" or "to return." Later, it acquired other purposes such as "to direct attention," "to mention," "to relate," and so on. The idiom "referring to" emerged to express these various meanings in different contexts.

Historical Example

“I have sent you herewith inclosed my last letter written unto you; referring you thereto for many things which I will not now repeat.”

- King James I of England, 1611

10 Examples of "Referring To" in Sentences

Here are some examples of how the idiom "referring to" can be used in different sentences, including its variations:

  • What are you referring to when you say that he is a genius? Because he isn't.
  • She was referring to the incident that happened last week. We already sent our deepest sympathy to the family of the victims.
  • Please refer to the instructions before you start the project. Take your time.
  • He referred me to his friend, who is a lawyer. All in all, the process went smoothly.
  • I have already scoured the internet for the best source. You can refer to this website for more information.
  • She didn't refer to any references in her essay. She should have searched the rules regarding citations.
  • He was referring to himself when he said that he was the best. He's so arrogant, whaddya say?
  • Please refer to the map for directions. Safe travels!
  • She referred to her notes during the presentation. Everything went well without a hassle.
  • He referred to his childhood memories in his novel. His childhood life is quite colorful.

Examples of "Referring To" in Pop Culture

Here are some examples of how this idiom appears in pop culture:

  • In the TV show Friends (1994-2004), in season 3, episode 9, Chandler says, "referring to" once.
  • In the movie The Matrix (1999), Morpheus mentions the idiom in one of the scenes.

Other Ways to Say "Referring To"

There are many other ways to say "referring to" in English, depending on the context and the tone.

Here are some of them:

  • to allude to
  • to cite
  • to denote
  • to imply
  • to indicate
  • to mention
  • to point to
  • to relate to
  • to remark
  • to speak of

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Referring To"

Here are some frequently asked questions about the idiom "referring to" and their answers:

  • What does "referring to" mean?

It means "to mention or make a reference to someone or something."

  • What is the origin of "referring to"?

The idiom "referring to" comes from the verb "refer," which has its roots in the Latin word "referre," which means "to bring back" or "to report."

  • What is the synonym of "referring"?

A synonym of referring is mentioning.

  • What is the antonym of "referring"?

An antonym of referring is ignoring.

  • What is the difference between "referring to" and referring from?

"Referring to" means mentioning or indicating someone or something, while referring from means deriving or originating from someone or something.

Example: “This book refers to many sources of information.” vs. “This book refers from the author’s personal experience.”

  • What is another word for "referring"?

Some other words for referring are mentioning, indicating, relating, citing, alluding, implying, denoting, pointing, remarking, and speaking.

  • How do you use "referring to" in a sentence?

You can use referring to in a sentence by following it with a noun or a pronoun that indicates who or what you are talking about.

Example: What are you referring to? Tell me, and I won't bug you anymore.

  • How do you spell "referring"?

Referring is spelled with two r’s and one f.

  • What part of speech is "referring"?

Referring is a verb that can be used in different tenses and forms.

  • How do you pronounce "referring"?

Referring is pronounced as /rɪˈfɜːrɪŋ/ in British English and /rɪˈfɜrɪŋ/ in American English.

Final Thoughts About "Referring To"

"Referring to" is an idiom with various meanings depending on the context.

It can mean:

  • Mentioning or referring to someone or something.
  • Indicating, signifying, or pointing to someone or something.
  • Looking at or turning to something as a source of information or support.
  • Directing someone to someone or something for help, support, or action.
  • Looking up data from a source.

Referring to is a common and valuable expression in everyday language. It can help us communicate clearly and effectively about different topics and situations. It can also help us understand what others are saying or writing about. However, we should also be careful not to confuse referring with other similar expressions, such as referring from, alluding to, implying, etc. We should also be aware of the speaker or writer's tone and intention when referring to it, as it can sometimes mean criticism, sarcasm, or irony.

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