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noun in·fer·ence \ˈin-f(ə-)rən(t)s, -fərn(t)s\

Simple Definition of inference

  • : the act or process of reaching a conclusion about something from known facts or evidence

  • : a conclusion or opinion that is formed because of known facts or evidence

Full Definition of inference

  1. 1 :  the act or process of inferring (see infer): as a :  the act of passing from one proposition, statement, or judgment considered as true to another whose truth is believed to follow from that of the former b :  the act of passing from statistical sample data to generalizations (as of the value of population parameters) usually with calculated degrees of certainty

  2. 2 :  something that is inferred; especially :  a conclusion or opinion that is formed because of known facts or evidence

  3. 3 :  the premises and conclusion of a process of inferring

Examples of inference

  1. In spite of the fact that there are virtually no controlled clinical trials examining the effects of obesity in people, we can make some inferences from animal research. —Patrick Johnson, Skeptical Inquirer, September/October 2005

  2. We cannot see a past event directly, but science is usually based on inference, not unvarnished observation (you don't see electrons, gravity, or black holes either). —Stephen Jay Gould, Wonderful Life, 1989

  3. The writer of science fiction extends or projects or draws inferences from what is known and accepted. —Karl Kroeber, Romantic Fantasy and Science Fiction, 1988

  4. Its existence is only known by inference.

  5. The program uses records of past purchases to make inferences about what customers will buy in the future.

  6. What inference can we draw from these facts?

Origin of inference

(see infer)

First Known Use: 1594

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February 7, 2016

a slight offense

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