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 These questions were settled last year, when Dimitris Koukoulopoulos and James Maynard announced a proof of the Duffin-Schaeffer conjecture. Quanta Magazine, "How Rational Math Catches Slippery Irrational Numbers," 10 Mar. 2020 There's plenty of conjecture out there, and plenty of teams searching for a quarterback. Scott Horner, Indianapolis Star, "Philip Rivers free agency: National view of his fit with the Colts," 10 Feb. 2020 While caucuses tend to offer fertile ground for activists to assert their influence, a Sanders win in Iowa followed by a strong showing in his neighboring state of New Hampshire could put an end to the conjecture. Naomi Lim, Washington Examiner, "Four things to watch for in the Iowa caucuses," 3 Feb. 2020 In a trial that had been long on conjecture but short on hard evidence, his testimony became the linchpin of the state’s case — so much so that Andrews would cite him more than a dozen times in her closing argument. Pamela Colloff, ProPublica, "He’s a Liar, a Con Artist and a Snitch. His Testimony Could Soon Send a Man to His Death.," 4 Dec. 2019 But progress on the twin primes conjecture has stalled. Wired, "A Big Question About Prime Numbers Gets a Partial Answer," 29 Sep. 2019 In the following years, the connections extended to other big problems, further elevating the conjecture’s profile and influence. Quanta Magazine, "Subhash Khot, Playing Unique Games in Washington Square Park," 16 June 2019 Laws should be forged upon necessity supported by evidence, not conjecture supported by hysteria. BostonGlobe.com, "Should Massachusetts ban billboards advertising marijuana products?," 16 Jan. 2020 There’s quite a bit of uncertainty about how Tate and Shepard will be used, with some conjecture that Tate’s role might include some action as an outside receiver. C.d. Carter, Sports Illustrated, "An OBJ-Sized Hole in New York Could Make Golden Tate a Fantasy Football Steal," 13 May 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The film conjectures that mushrooms are a large part of the reason humans and other species exist, because of their ability to decompose and create the conditions necessary for new life. The Editors, Outside Online, "Everything Our Editors Loved in February," 3 Mar. 2020 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

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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Time Traveler for conjecture

Time Traveler

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

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Last Updated

20 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Conjecture.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/conjecture. Accessed 8 Apr. 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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