reference (n.)

1580s, "act of referring," 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" is recorded from 1610s. Meaning "testimonial" is from 1895. Reference book dates from 1808. Phrase in reference to is attested from 1590s.

reference (v.)

1620s, "to assign;" as "to provide with a reference," 1837 (implied in referenced), from reference (n.). Related: Referencing.

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Definitions of reference from WordNet
reference (n.)
a remark that calls attention to something or someone;
the speaker made several references to his wife
Synonyms: mention
reference (n.)
a short note recognizing a source of information or of a quoted passage;
reference (n.)
an indicator that orients you generally;
it is used as a reference for comparing the heating and the electrical energy involved
Synonyms: reference point / point of reference
reference (n.)
a book to which you can refer for authoritative facts;
he contributed articles to the basic reference work on that topic
Synonyms: reference book / reference work / book of facts
reference (n.)
a formal recommendation by a former employer to a potential future employer describing the person's qualifications and dependability;
requests for character references are all too often answered evasively
Synonyms: character / character reference
reference (n.)
the most direct or specific meaning of a word or expression; the class of objects that an expression refers to;
Synonyms: denotation / extension
reference (n.)
the act of referring or consulting;
reference to an encyclopedia produced the answer
Synonyms: consultation
reference (n.)
a publication (or a passage from a publication) that is referred to;
he carried an armful of references back to his desk
Synonyms: source
reference (n.)
(computer science) the code that identifies where a piece of information is stored;
Synonyms: address / computer address
reference (n.)
the relation between a word or phrase and the object or idea it refers to;
he argued that reference is a consequence of conditioned reflexes
reference (v.)
refer to;
he referenced his colleagues' work
Synonyms: cite