Etymology
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refer (v.)

late 14c., referren, "to trace back (a quality, etc., to a first cause or origin), attribute, assign," from Old French referer (14c.) and directly from Latin referre "to relate, refer," literally "to carry back," from re- "back" (see re-) + ferre "to carry, bear" (from PIE root *bher- (1) "to carry," also "to bear children").

The meaning "to commit to some authority for consideration and decision" is from mid-15c.; sense of "to direct (someone) to a book, etc." for information is from c. 1600. Related: Referred; referring.

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referral (n.)

1920, "act of referring," from refer + -al (2). Especially to an expert or specialist, for advice (a sense attested by 1955 in social work). Earlier word was referment (1550s), and compare reference (n.).

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referent (adj.)

"having reference," 1838, from Latin referentem (nominative referens), present participle of referre "to refer" (see refer). As a noun, "one who is referred to," from 1844; from 1923 as "that to which something has reference."

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referee (n.)

1620s, an official position, "person who examines patent applications" (see refer), a sense now obsolete. By 1660s as "one to whom any matter in question is referred for decision, an umpire." Also in legal use, "person selected under authority of law to try a case in place of the court" (1680s). Sporting use is recorded by 1820 (specifically of baseball from 1856).

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referendum (n.)

1847, "a submitting of a question to the voters as a whole" (originally chiefly in reference to Switzerland, where the people have the right to decide on certain laws which have been passed by the legislature), from French or German, from Latin referendum "that which must be referred," literally "thing brought back," neuter gerundive of referre "to bring or take back" (see refer). General (non-Swiss) use is by 1882.  Fowler (1926) preferred a plural referendums because referenda is "too suggestive (cf. memoranda, agenda &c.) of the correct sense—questions to be referred."

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relative (n.)

late 14c., realtif, in grammar, "a relative pronoun," from Old French relatif (13c.), from Late Latin relativus "having reference or relation," from Latin relatus, used as past participle of referre "bring back, bear back" (see refer), from re- "back, again" + lātus "borne, carried" (see oblate (n.)). The meaning "kinsman, kinswoman, person in the same family or connected by blood" is attested from 1650s.

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relate (v.)

1520s, "to recount, tell," from French relater "refer, report" (14c.) and directly from Latin relatus, used as past participle of referre "bring back, bear back" (see refer), from re- "back, again" + lātus "borne, carried" (see oblate (n.)).

The meaning "stand in some relation; have reference or respect" is from 1640s; transitive sense of "bring (something) into relation with (something else)" is from 1690s. Meaning "to establish a relation between" is from 1771. Sense of "to feel connected or sympathetic to" is attested from 1950, originally in psychology jargon. Related: Related; relating.

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relative (adj.)

early 15c., relatif, "having reference (to something), relating, depending upon," from Old French relatif and directly from Late Latin relativus "having reference or relation," from Latin relatus, used as past participle of referre "bring back, bear back" (see refer), from re- "back, again" + lātus "borne, carried" (see oblate (n.)).

Meaning "having mutual relationship, connected with each other" is from 1590s; that of "arising from or determined by relationship to something else" is from 1610s; that of "having or standing in a relation to something else" is from 1650s; that of "not absolute or existing by itself" is by 1704. In grammar, "referring to an antecedent," from 1520s.

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reference (n.)

1580s, "act of referring" (some matter, to someone for consideration), from refer + -ance, or else from French référence, from Medieval Latin *referentia, from Latin referentem (nominative referens), present participle of referre.

Meaning "direction to a book or passage" where certain information may be found is recorded from 1610s. By 1837 as "one who or that which may be referred to." The meaning "testimonial" is from 1895. Reference book , a dictionary, encyclopedia, or similar book intended to be consulted as occasion requires, dates from 1808; reference library is by 1834. Phrase in reference to is attested from 1590s. "By slipshod extension, the word is often now made to mean a person to whom r[eference] is permitted as a witness to character, & even a written testimonial" [Fowler, 1926]. The earlier word for "one who gives characters for people seeking employment" was referee (1862) but this word had a bad savor, of literate accomplices of professional beggars and thieves.

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*bher- (1)

Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to carry," also "to bear children."

It forms all or part of: Aberdeen; amphora; anaphora; aquifer; auriferous; bairn; barrow (n.1) "frame for carrying a load;" bear (v.); bearing; Berenice; bier; birth; bring; burden (n.1) "a load;" carboniferous; Christopher; chromatophore; circumference; confer; conference; conifer; cumber; cumbersome; defer (v.2) "yield;" differ; difference; differentiate; efferent; esophagus; euphoria; ferret; fertile; Foraminifera; forbear (v.); fossiliferous; furtive; indifferent; infer; Inverness; Lucifer; metaphor; odoriferous; offer; opprobrium; overbear; paraphernalia; periphery; pestiferous; pheromone; phoresy; phosphorus; Porifera; prefer; proffer; proliferation; pyrophoric; refer; reference; semaphore; somniferous; splendiferous; suffer; transfer; vociferate; vociferous.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit bharati "he carries, brings," bhrtih "a bringing, maintenance;" Avestan baraiti "carries;" Old Persian barantiy "they carry;" Armenian berem "I carry;" Greek pherein "to carry," pherne "dowry;" Latin ferre "to bear, carry," fors (genitive fortis) "chance, luck," perhaps fur "a thief;" Old Irish beru/berim "I catch, I bring forth," beirid "to carry;" Old Welsh beryt "to flow;" Gothic bairan "to carry;" Old English and Old High German beran, Old Norse bera "barrow;" Old Church Slavonic birati "to take;" Russian brat' "to take," bremya "a burden," beremennaya "pregnant."

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