preference-n; 4 Senses

Sense Number 1: an orientation or predisposition towards something

Commentary: PREFERENCE[+state][+orientation][+liking]
NOTE: refers to a general orientation, state of being, not a specific object (Sense 4)

They have a preference for long dinners with conversation over watching television.
My preference would be to postpone the meeting until next Thursday.
John tried to discreetly explain the sexual preferences of his friend to Mary.

PropBank: NM
WordNet 3.0 Sense Numbers: 1, 2

Sense Number 2: a prior or preceding right

Commentary: PREFERENCE[+state][+legal][+precedence][+payment]
NOTE: implies a state of legal obligation to pay a debt.

Debts owed to the community should be accorded a preference.
These shareholders have preference in receiving payment from the company's liquidation.

PropBank: NM
WordNet 3.0 Sense Numbers: 3

Sense Number 3: a state of favor or advantage

Commentary: PREFERENCE[+state][+advantage]
NOTE: implies a state of favor or advantage granted to someone/something

Preference will be given to those who make donations.
This treaty will give that nation certain trade preferences.
They felt their boss was giving too much preference to the new hires.

PropBank: NM
WordNet 3.0 Sense Numbers: 4

Sense Number 4: a thing that is desired, chosen

Commentary: PREFERENCE[+entity][+chosen]
NOTE: refers to a specific object that is liked, not a general state of being (Sense 1)
NOTE: often in phrases 'preference BE X',

Mary's preference was the dark chocolate cake with chocolate-orange ganache.
I chose my preference in slipcover material from among the fabric swatches.
Do you have a preference between a 2001 Zinfandel or a 2003 Shiraz?

PropBank: NM
WordNet 0.0 Sense Numbers: 2