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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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 There are studies that are very poor quality, or conjecture. Steven Levy, Wired, "The CEO of Novartis on Developing Drugs During a Pandemic," 30 June 2020 Right now, everything is conjecture beyond game film of Texas’ victory over Utah and a few workouts. Chuck Carlton, Dallas News, "As Chris Ash builds the new Longhorns pass rush, ‘jack’ LB Joseph Ossai could be a cornerstone," 8 May 2020 The comment quickly sparked some lighthearted reaction on social media and in the Australian press — along with some lively conjecture about the French leader’s intent. Frank Miles, Fox News, "French president calls Aussie PM’s wife ‘delicious.’ Wait, what's that supposed to mean?," 2 May 2018 The challenge now is to shift from conjecture to confidence, at a time when staff are focused on saving lives, and even neurologic assessments like inducing the gag reflex or transporting patients for brain scans risk spreading the virus. Meredith Wadman, Science | AAAS, "How does coronavirus kill? Clinicians trace a ferocious rampage through the body, from brain to toes," 17 Apr. 2020 There are plenty of ideas of how the 2019-20 season could resume at some point later in the summer, but the nature of the coronavirus pandemic is such that any plan at this point is little more than conjecture. Matt Velazquez, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Without access to hoops or one another, Bucks players are working to stay in shape and connected," 3 Apr. 2020 The answer is far more familiar than the fearful conjecture forebodes. Ian Bogost, The Atlantic, "You Already Live in Quarantine," 4 Mar. 2020 Exhibition games offer exercises in conjecture — treasure maps that often lead surveyors to fool’s gold, but that every once in a while point to something that turns out to be real. Real or not, Duran is glimmering on the field in the early spring. Alex Speier, BostonGlobe.com, "It’s authority, not speed for a change, that has Jarren Duran turning heads," 28 Feb. 2020 More ‘Word on the Street’ In the years since, scholars have suggested many competing conjectures. Ben Zimmer, WSJ, "‘Cahoots’: A Term For Hidden Scheming Has Murky Origins," 24 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb For each of these moonshines, the researchers conjectured, there is a string theory like the one in monstrous moonshine, in which the mock modular form counts the string states and the group captures the model’s symmetry. Quanta Magazine, "Mathematicians Chase Moonshine’s Shadow," 12 Mar. 2015 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

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

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

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Last Updated

8 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Conjecture.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/conjecture. Accessed 12 Jul. 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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