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

guess, shot, supposition, surmise

Synonyms: Verb

calculate, call, estimate, figure, gauge (also gage), guess, judge, make, place, put, reckon, suppose

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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

Still, all of that conjecture doesn’t take up much space in Ryder’s mind. Pat Rooney, The Denver Post, "CU Buffs forward Frank Ryder looking to contribute for hometown team," 17 June 2019 These findings hinted that the conjecture might be true, but other findings suggested the opposite. Quanta Magazine, "A 53-Year-Old Network Coloring Conjecture Is Disproved," 17 June 2019 But for all the quote-unquote conjecture, Jordan arrived at this point because of all the things about him that are not theoretical. Luke Johnson, nola.com, "Saints’ Cam Jordan takes one step closer to ‘vision of grandeur’ with 3-year extension," 11 June 2019 The rest is conjecture, which naturally arises in a situation this delicate and regrettable,'' Rodriguez said. Jorge L. Ortiz, USA TODAY, "Dominican prosecutors say David Ortiz was not intended target in shooting," 10 June 2019 There's also first-round conjecture related to IU's Romeo Langford, Purdue's Carsen Edwards and Perry Meridian High School's Dylan Windler. Scott Horner, Indianapolis Star, "NBA Draft 2019: Pacers could show free agency plan with No. 18 draft pick," 6 June 2019 So, for the moment, the talk about what the Suns or James Jones plan to do is pure conjecture. Ira Winderman, sun-sentinel.com, "ASK IRA: Should Heat pursue Suns’ No. 6 pick, if available?," 4 June 2019 And that's the rub: That knee-jerk conjecture takes place out of context. Jill Kiedaisch, Popular Mechanics, "Study Shows Parachutes Are Totally Worthless," 17 Dec. 2018 The lady’s enigmatic glance and lavish, yet monochrome, attire provide ample excuse for conjecture as to... Tom L. Freudenheim, WSJ, "A Sumptuous Painting Surrounded by Stories," 15 Mar. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 The paper, by the prominent string theorist Cumrun Vafa of Harvard University and collaborators, conjectured a simple formula dictating which kinds of universes are allowed to exist and which are forbidden, according to string theory. Quanta Magazine, "Dark Energy May Be Incompatible With String Theory," 9 Aug. 2018 Historians conjecture that the boats were intended to carry souls to the next world. Alissa J. Rubin, New York Times, "In Iraq Museum, There Are Things ‘That Are Nowhere Else in the World’," 9 June 2019 So a deal might reach $13 million a year, though Sound Transit won’t conjecture about bid values in advance. Mike Lindblom, The Seattle Times, "Sound Transit puts bus outsourcing on hold," 25 Mar. 2019 It's also conjectured that her six children have kept her busy. Fox News, "8 stars who vanished from the public eye," 27 July 2018 How much of what’s in the film is drawn from people hypothesizing, conjecturing, and how much is from interviews and the book? Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "First Man’s screenwriter thinks Neil Armstrong would be disappointed by the flag controversy," 15 Oct. 2018 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

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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Last Updated

11 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for conjecture

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)

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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