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For example, I wish to borrow a book from someone. In order to assure that person that I will treat their book carefully, I want to refer them to someone I have already borrowed a book from in the past who knows that I am responsible.

What is the word for that person who can recommend me?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Such a person is reference:

reference, noun : A person who is in a position to recommend another or to vouch for his or her fitness.

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I guess this would work in some situations, but I was looking for a word that could be used more informally... – Lars89 Jan 4 '12 at 19:20
Most synonyms (backer, guarantor, patron) are more formal, not less; unless you want go with something like buddy or mate. – Gnawme Jan 4 '12 at 19:31
It seems like there should be a more efficient way to say 'someone to vouch for me.' I was looking for a term that would be used in everyday speech (outside of strictly business contexts), but perhaps there is none other than 'buddy' or 'mate' or the like. – Lars89 Jan 4 '12 at 19:45
Is this perhaps the original meaning of a reference librarian? She knows you have borrowed and returned books in the past, so she vouches that you will do so in the future. (My wife was a reference librarian years ago and thinks this is one of the few decent jokes I have come up with in years. :-) – Peter Rowell Jan 4 '12 at 19:51
When I use "reference" outside of a business context, it means "character reference" to most people, which seems to be what you're after. Or you can just say, "My next-door neighbor can vouch for me." – Gnawme Jan 4 '12 at 20:04

Since such a person would be attesting to your reliability, perhaps some form of one who attests might work, e.g., attestant, attester, or attestator.

Otherwise, there are a few legal terms you could choose from if you didn't mind raising a few eyebrows, e.g., deponent, cojuror, and compurgator.

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