conjecture

noun
con·jec·ture | \kən-ˈjek-chər \

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

b : supposition

conjecture

verb
conjectured; conjecturing\kən-ˈjek-chə-riŋ, -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 \ noun

Synonyms for conjecture

Synonyms: Noun

guess, shot, supposition, surmise

Synonyms: Verb

assume, daresay, guess, imagine, presume, speculate, suppose, surmise, suspect

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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

Maradona’s health was the subject of conjecture after Argentina’s dramatic victory over Nigeria to progress to the knockout stage. Martin Rogers, USA TODAY, "Argentina legend Diego Maradona's behavior at the World Cup could be just for show," 30 June 2018 The Constitution requires that an an Indictment be based upon legal evidence —not speculation or conjecture. Steve Vockrodt And Tony Rizzo, kansascity, "Schlitterbahn executives charged with second-degree murder in Verruckt case | The Kansas City Star," 27 Mar. 2018 And one giant slot machine of rumor, speculation, innuendo, conjecture and overreaction. Greg Moore, azcentral, "Moore: Breaking down Suns buzz, speculation from NBA Summer League," 10 July 2018 Critics and conjecture Others have questioned the injuries themselves. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "US pulls two more from Cuba amid puzzling health cases now affecting China," 11 June 2018 Trump's standing to police rumor and conjecture is diminished, to say the least. Callum Borchers, Washington Post, "The many ironies of Trump’s tweets about ‘unfair’ coverage of Melania’s public absence," 6 June 2018 Perhaps the most profound material from the letter, however, is her brother's uncannily accurate conjecture on America's current political climate. Sarah Schreiber, Good Housekeeping, "Family Receives Amazing Letter From Their Son — 14 Years After His Death," 20 Oct. 2016 There even had been social-media reports of James meeting with Riley and Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, conjecture that was inaccurate, with team officials expressly forbidden from contacting impending free agents prior to July 1. Ira Winderman, Sun-Sentinel.com, "LeBron heads west, signing with Lakers, no longer a Heat conference rival," 2 July 2018 In addition to this conjecture, some think the name has to do with the city's bustling music scene. Perri Ormont Blumberg, Southern Living, "Why Is New Orleans Called "The Big Easy?"," 4 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Collins conjectures that further refinements could bypass the need for laboratory processing. Richard Conniff, Scientific American, "New Probiotic Cholera Vaccine Can Outrace the Infection’s Rapid Spread," 13 June 2018 Later, Einstein conjectured, with a highly mathematical theory called general relativity, that gravity also affects the rate of ticking of clocks: A clock in strong gravity ticks more slowly than one in weak gravity. Alan Lightman, New York Times, "Benedict Cumberbatch Meets Albert Einstein in Carlo Rovelli’s New Audiobook," 14 May 2018 The actuaries conjecture that the reason is that the healthiest members of each age group live the longest, and as the number of survivors shrinks, the wealth factor becomes less crucial. Michael Hiltzik, latimes.com, "More evidence that raising the Social Security retirement age is no problem for the rich, but tough on the poor," 25 Apr. 2018 Preservationists angrily reject the mayor’s figures, conjecturing a far lower cost to keep the bridge open just for pedestrians and bikes. New York Times, "In Erie, One City Block Is a Trek of Disrespect," 12 Mar. 2018 As colliders and detectors have failed to turn up the particles these theories conjecture, the models have been tweaked and ever-larger colliders and detectors have been put to work testing them. The Economist, "Lord of the ringsThe next super-collider should be built in China," 11 Jan. 2018 The result is a strange alchemy of imagined past, misunderstood present, and weirdly conjectured future. Josephine Livingstone, New Republic, "Dan Brown’s New Mystery: the Internet," 11 Oct. 2017 Cooing over the launch of Tabitha Simmons bridal, many a married guest conjectured bigamy if only to secure the heart-skipping satins, the blush mink slide, or the inky velvet Victorian-style bootie with grosgrain ribbons. Vogue, "Shoe city: Tabitha Simmons’s Stylish Set Step Into Her Moda Operandi Madison Presentation," 8 Sep. 2017 Despite the ongoing investigation, some media outlets and others have conjectured that Sheila was the victim of a 'probable suicide.' Paula Rogo, Essence.com, "Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam Death Ruled A Suicide," 27 July 2017

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

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

Verb

see conjecture entry 1

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Phrases Related to conjecture

a matter of conjecture

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Last Updated

3 Oct 2018

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

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More Definitions for conjecture

conjecture

noun

English Language Learners Definition of conjecture

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: an opinion or idea formed without proof or sufficient evidence

conjecture

verb

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

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

conjecture

noun
con·jec·ture | \kən-ˈjek-chər \

Kids Definition of conjecture

 (Entry 1 of 2)

conjecture

verb
conjectured; conjecturing

Kids Definition of conjecture (Entry 2 of 2)

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one that holds something together

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