conjecture

noun
con·​jec·​ture | \ kən-ˈjek-chər How to pronounce conjecture (audio) \

Definition of conjecture

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : inference formed without proof or sufficient evidence
b : a conclusion deduced by surmise or guesswork The criminal's motive remains a matter of conjecture.
c : a proposition (as in mathematics) before it has been proved or disproved
2 obsolete
a : interpretation of omens

conjecture

verb
conjectured; conjecturing\ kən-​ˈjek-​chə-​riŋ How to pronounce conjecturing (audio) , -​ˈjek-​shriŋ \

Definition of conjecture (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to arrive at or deduce by surmise or guesswork : guess scientists conjecturing that a disease is caused by a defective gene
2 : to make conjectures as to conjecture the meaning of a statement

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Other Words from conjecture

Verb

conjecturer \ kən-​ˈjek-​chər-​ər How to pronounce conjecturer (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for conjecture

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

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Did You Know?

Verb

When the noun "conjecture" entered English in the 14th century, it referred to the act of interpreting signs or omens (as for making prognostications). That sense is now obsolete, but by the 16th century both the noun and verb "conjecture" had acquired the meanings of speculation and inference that we use today. "Conjecture" derived via Middle English and Middle French from the Latin verb conicere ("to throw together"), a combination of "com-" ("together") and "jacere" ("to throw").

Examples of conjecture in a Sentence

Noun Whether Columbus brought syphilis to the New World—or to the Old World—has been the subject of conjecture for at least 500 years. — Carl Zimmer, Science, 11 May 2001 … their voices rose in a chorus of conjecture and alarm, repeating the selfsame remark: "What is she going to do? I mean, is Betty going to faint?" — Edna O'Brien, New Yorker, 1 Jan. 1990 The reason why the French with superior man-power and American resources were doing so poorly was not beyond all conjecture. — Barbara W. Tuchman, The March of Folly, 1984 Peculiar features of early maps, which may have been nothing but a draftsman's whimsy, have inspired pages of vain conjecture. — Samuel Eliot Morison, The European Discovery of America, 1971 The biography includes conjectures about the writer's earliest ambitions. a conjecture about the extent of the injury Most of the book is conjecture, not fact. Verb It is fashionable now to conjecture that the Big Bang was caused by a random quantum fluctuation in a vacuum devoid of space and time. — Martin Gardner, Skeptical Inquirer, November/December 1998 Despairing of assistance and protection from below (as they foolishly conjecture) they talk of capitulating and coming upon terms with the French and Indians … — George Washington 24 Apr. 1776, in The Papers of George Washington1984 … their traces left for future archaeologists to rediscover and perhaps to wonder or conjecture over. — Jane Jacobs, Cities and the Wealth of Nations, 1984 I am anxious to conjecture beforehand what may be expected from the sowing turneps [sic] in jaded ground, how much from the acre, & how large they will be? — Thomas Jefferson, letter, 29 Dec. 1794 Some have conjectured that the distant planet could sustain life. We only conjecture about his motives.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Mozart’s Requiem, left unfinished at the time of his death and completed by his student, Franz Sussmayr, holds an almost mythical place in music history thanks to a soup of facts, fiction and conjecture. Elaine Schmidt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Milwaukee Symphony conductor Yaniv Dinur, doubling on piano, a delight to see and hear," 23 Nov. 2019 The new paper solves a 25-year-old conjecture and has implications everywhere from online encryption to the mathematics of randomness. Quanta Magazine, "In the Universe of Equations, Virtually All Are Prime," 10 Dec. 2018 The twin primes conjecture concerns pairs of prime numbers with a difference of 2. Wired, "A Big Question About Prime Numbers Gets a Partial Answer," 29 Sep. 2019 Of course, this is all conjecture, and Belichick could just as easily retire this offseason, particularly if the 42-year-old Brady does the same. Des Bieler, The Denver Post, "Analysis: Eager for Patriots’ dynasty to end? Bill Belichick might torment you for years to come.," 29 Oct. 2019 The sunflower conjecture is about sets, which are collections of objects. Quanta Magazine, "Mathematicians Begin to Tame Wild ‘Sunflower’ Problem," 21 Oct. 2019 The Warriors are about $400,000 under the league’s $139 million salary cap and cannot exceed the cap at any point during the season, stirring media conjecture about moves the franchise could make to find a center. Rusty Simmons, SFChronicle.com, "Warriors exec trying to carry rhythm and flow into roster decisions," 13 Oct. 2019 Oxitec and other critics say that such a suggestion is incendiary conjecture and that the study's text is flawed. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "Study claimed a GMO trial went horrifically wrong. The study’s authors disagree," 2 Oct. 2019 Orion Sang, Detroit Free Press During the summer, when conjecture and speculation was rampant, Jim Harbaugh was unequivocal when asked about the prospects of his team. Rainer Sabin, Detroit Free Press, "Why is Jim Harbaugh suddenly shy talking about Michigan football's resurgence?," 21 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Becker conjectures that pollution is being preferentially ejected by impacts, regardless of whether the ice is reattaching itself in this manner. Quanta Magazine, "Are Saturn’s Rings Really as Young as the Dinosaurs?," 26 Nov. 2019 Campbell and Zakharevich are now working with a third mathematician, Daniil Rudenko of the University of Chicago, to try and specify the connection between cutting shapes and decomposing equations that Goncharov conjectured. Quanta Magazine, "Mathematicians Cut Apart Shapes to Find Pieces of Equations," 31 Oct. 2019 That proof, along with a series of additional conjectures that Weil made — the Weil conjectures — established finite fields as a rich landscape for mathematical discovery. Quanta Magazine, "Big Question About Primes Proved in Small Number Systems," 26 Sep. 2019 Scheel narrates the scene, conjecturing that Heidi is hunting for crab in her mind’s eye. Claire Bugos, Smithsonian, "Heidi the Snoozing Octopus May Not Be Dreaming After All," 12 Oct. 2019 In 1992, Noam Nisan of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Mario Szegedy, now of Rutgers University, conjectured that sensitivity does indeed fit into this framework. Quanta Magazine, "Decades-Old Computer Science Conjecture Solved in Two Pages," 25 July 2019 In 1992, Noam Nisan of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Mario Szegedy, now of Rutgers University, conjectured that sensitivity does indeed fit into this framework. Wired, "A Decades-Old Computer Science Puzzle Was Solved in Two Pages," 4 Aug. 2019 Hedetniemi conjectured that whichever of the two carry-over colorings uses fewer colors is, in fact, the best possible way to color the tensor graph. Quanta Magazine, "A 53-Year-Old Network Coloring Conjecture Is Disproved," 17 June 2019 Archaeologists conjecture that the famous Hindu temple had been destroyed and rebuilt at least five times. Paul Salopek, National Geographic, "One of India's holiest cities is being reborn. Not everyone is happy," 21 Mar. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'conjecture.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of conjecture

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Verb

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for conjecture

Noun and Verb

Middle English, from Middle French or Latin; Middle French, from Latin conjectura, from conjectus, past participle of conicere, literally, to throw together, from com- + jacere to throw — more at jet

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The first known use of conjecture was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

10 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Conjecture.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/conjecture. Accessed 26 January 2020.

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More Definitions for conjecture

conjecture

noun
How to pronounce conjecture (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of conjecture

 (Entry 1 of 2)

formal : an opinion or idea formed without proof or sufficient evidence

conjecture

verb

English Language Learners Definition of conjecture (Entry 2 of 2)

formal : to form an opinion or idea without proof or sufficient evidence

conjecture

noun
con·​jec·​ture | \ kən-ˈjek-chər How to pronounce conjecture (audio) \

Kids Definition of conjecture

 (Entry 1 of 2)

conjecture

verb
conjectured; conjecturing

Kids Definition of conjecture (Entry 2 of 2)

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