Reference is a relation between objects in which one object designates, or acts as a means by which to connect to or link to, another object. The first object in this relation is said to refer to the second object. The second object – the one to which the first object refers – is called the referent of the first object.
The term reference is used in many spheres of human knowledge, adopting shades of meaning particular to the contexts in which it is used.
References can take on many forms, including: a thought, a sensory perception that is audible (onomatopoeia), visual (text), olfactory, or tactile, emotional state, relationship with other, spacetime coordinate, symbolic or alpha-numeric, a physical object or an energy projection; but, other concrete and abstract contexts exist as methods of defining references within the scope of the various fields that require an origin, point of departure, or an original form. This includes methods that intentionally hide the reference from some observers, as in cryptography.
The following sections give specific usages of reference in different subjects.
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Famous quotes containing the word reference:
“I am more and more convinced that, with reference to any public question, it is more important to know what the country thinks of it than what the city thinks. The city does not think much.”
—Henry David Thoreau (18171862)
“I think, for the rest of my life, I shall refrain from looking up things. It is the most ravenous time-snatcher I know. You pull one book from the shelf, which carries a hint or a reference that sends you posthaste to another book, and that to successive others. It is incredible, the number of books you hopefully open and disappointedly close, only to take down another with the same result.”
—Carolyn Wells (18621942)
“If Hitler invaded hell I would make at least a favourable reference to the devil in the House of Commons.”
—Winston Churchill (18741965)