late 14c., "to put forward or advance in rank or fortune, to promote," from Old French preferer (14c.) and directly from Latin praeferre "place or set before, carry in front," from prae "before" (see pre-) + ferre "to carry, to bear," from PIE root *bher- (1) "to carry," also "to bear children." Meaning "to esteem (something) more than others" also is recorded from late 14c. Original sense in English is preserved in preferment.
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