General English

  • verb to be about something or someone
  • verb to look into something for information


  • verb to describe or give a name to
  • verb to direct someone to a source of help or information


  • verb to mention, to deal with or to write about something
  • verb to pass a problem on to someone else to decide


  • verb to pass a case to the ECJ for a ruling


  • verb to pass on information about a patient to someone else
  • verb to send someone to another doctor, usually a specialist, for advice or treatment

Origin & History of “refer”

To refer something is etymologically to ‘carry it back’. The word comes via Old French referer from Latin referre, a compound verb formed from the prefix re- ‘back’ and ferre ‘carry’ (source of English fertile and related to English bear). Of its derivatives, referee (16th c.) is an English coinage, and referendum (19th c.) is an adoption of the neuter gerundive of referre – literally, ‘that which is to be referred’. Relātus, which was used as the past participle of Latin referre, has given English relate.