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pref·er·ence (prĕfər-əns, prĕfrəns)
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n.
1.
a. The selecting of someone or something over another or others: has a decided preference for travel by train.
b. The right or chance to make a choice: The program offers you the preference to use the mouse or function keys.
c. Someone or something so chosen or preferred: What are your musical preferences? See Synonyms at choice.
2. The state of being preferred; favor over others: applicants who received preference for the job.
3. Law
a. A priority of payment given to one or more creditors by an insolvent debtor.
b. The right of a creditor to priority of payment.
c. The presentation of a case as ready for consideration.
d. The formal presentation of criminal charges against someone.
4. The granting of precedence or advantage to one country or group of countries in levying duties or in other matters of international trade.

[Middle English preferraunce, preferment, from Old French preference, from preferer, to prefer; see PREFER.]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

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