What is ref short for?


Ref is an abbreviation for "referee," which is an official of a sporting event. It is used in a variety of sports leagues such as the NBA, NHL, NFL and FIFA.

Refs are typically looked down upon by most sports fans and often receive death threats for missing calls that happen faster than a blink of the eye. A nickname often used by fans to refer to a ref is "zebra", which comes from the black and white uniforms typically worn by a football and hockey refs.


Those refs need to get their heads on straight! That clearly was a foul!
A football ref signaling a first down
A football ref signaling a first down

Related Slang


Updated November 6, 2017

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This page explains what the abbreviation "ref" means. The definition, example, and related terms listed above have been written and compiled by the team.

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