Middle English, from Anglo-French recommender, from Medieval Latin recommendare, from Latin re- + commendare to commend variant of recommander RECOMMAND v.1, and partly < post-classical Latin recommendare to commit, entrust (10th cent.; frequently from 11th cent. in British sources), to praise, commend (13th cent.), to commend in prayer (14th cent. in British sources)


b : to endorse as fit, worthy, or competent <recommends her for the position>
  • 2 : entrust, commit <recommended his soul to God>
  • 3 : to make acceptable <has other points to recommend it>
  • 4 : advise <recommend that the matter be dropped>


A recommendation letter or letter of recommendation is a letter in which the writer assesses the qualities, characteristics, and capabilities of the person being recommended in terms of that individual’s ability to perform a particular task or function. Recommendation letters are almost always specifically requested to be written about someone, and are therefore addressed to a particular requestor. Letters of recommendation are typically related to employment, admissions to institutions of higher education or scholarship eligibility.

  • Recommendation vs reference

The term "recommendation letter" is often used interchangeably with the term "reference letter"; however, there is a difference between the two types. Letters of recommendation are very specific in nature and normally requested/required and are always addressed to an individual, whereas letters of reference are more general in nature and are usually addressed "To Whom It May Concern".