1. one to whom something is referred, especially for decision or settlement; arbitrator.
  2. (in certain games and sports) a judge having functions fixed by the rules of the game or sport; umpire.
  3. an authority who evaluates scientific, technical, or scholarly papers, grant proposals, or the like for the publication or funding institution to which they have been submitted.
  4. Law. a person selected by a court to take testimony in a case and return it to the court with recommendations as to the decision.

verb (used with object), ref·er·eed, ref·er·ee·ing.

  1. to preside over as referee; act as referee in.

verb (used without object), ref·er·eed, ref·er·ee·ing.

  1. to act as referee.


  1. a person to whom reference is made, esp for an opinion, information, or a decision
  2. the umpire or judge in any of various sports, esp football and boxing, responsible for ensuring fair play according to the rules
  3. a person who is willing to testify to the character or capabilities of someone
  4. law See Official Referee

verb -ees, -eeing or -eed

  1. to act as a referee (in); preside (over)

1620s, “person who examines patent applications” (see refer). Sporting use recorded by 1820 (specifically of baseball from 1856).


1883, originally colloquial, from referee (n.). Related: Refereed; refereeing.

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