When a referrer (noun) gives a referral (noun) to another person, what is the term (noun) used for the recipient of the referral? "The referred" may work, but am I missing another term? "Referred" indicates past-tense, but I intend to use the term in future and present tense as well.


4 Answers 4


Neither referent nor referee seems quite suitable to denote the person who receives a referral. Meanings of some relevant words include:
referent: “That which is referenced”
referee: “A person who writes a letter of reference or provides a reference by phone call for someone”
referrer: “A person who refers another”
referral: “The act or process of transferring someone or something to another, of sending by reference, or referring” (or commonly, the documents for the transfer)

In a common scenario, Doctor A (the referrer or referee) writes a letter to specialist Doctor B (the referral recipient) about patient C (the referred) who needs special treatment. From the Doctors' points of view, B is not a referent, referee, referrer, or referral, but can be called (accurately) a referral recipient or could be called (inaccurately?) a referred doctor. The doctors are likely to call the patient a referral but if pedantic might say referred patient. The doctors could also refer to the patient as the referred. The patient might call B a referral or a referred doctor, but is more likely to say something like “I was referred to Doctor B”. All of them call the letter of referral a referral.

In a similar but commercial scenario, the referral recipient (the party to whom the referred is referred) might be called an endorsed party, but could probably be called just the endorsed without confusion.


referee:a person to whom reference is made, esp for an opinion, information, or a decision http://www.thefreedictionary.com/referee


You could consider referent for whoever got the referral - as opposed to the referrer, who gave the referral.

  • Merriam-Webster supports this definition. I've often seen the word used in online marketing, but I'm not sure how well-known it is outside that context.
    – Zairja
    Sep 15, 2012 at 5:55

There's no reason to try to use a noun formed from the verb refer here.

The fact that referral is one such — in this very special idiomatic sense of refer — is no guarantee either that there are any more forms like it to use (in that special idiomatic sense), nor that trying to use one is a good idea, even if they do exist.

For one thing, precisely what does referral mean? I have heard referral used to refer to:

  • a letter of reference, written by X, for (= about) Y, to be sent to Z
  • a note, written by X, requesting Z's attention to some request of Y's
  • an address or URL, provided by X to Y, for the purpose of finding out about/contacting Z
  • various other forms of information transfer

So if A gives B a referral, what exactly is changing hands or minds here?

  • In business when we give a customer a reference to do business with another business, it's considered a "referral". In the transaction of a referral in this manner, I assumed there would be an oft-used noun attached to the recipient. @Mark above mentions "referee", which could also work; however, that term is more often used as a sports judge and could lend to confusion. I may have to settle on "referee" if there are no other terms, however.
    – Scott
    Sep 14, 2012 at 21:21

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