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 conjecture (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 conjecture (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 Across recent decades, scholars on both sides of the Atlantic have parsed its story to a fare-thee-well, but records are very limited and much of the Tyger’s story, while long thought to be true, is based on probability and conjecture. John Mcphee, The New Yorker, "Tabula Rasa," 12 Apr. 2021 Already, knowing that the conjecture is false has changed the mindsets of many mathematicians. Quanta Magazine, "Mathematician Disproves 80-Year-Old Algebra Conjecture," 12 Apr. 2021 In the early 1970s computer scientists formulated the guiding conjecture in the field of computational complexity, asking whether the list of problems in P corresponds exactly to the problems in NP. Quanta Magazine, "Pioneers Linking Math and Computer Science Win the Abel Prize," 17 Mar. 2021 Mental and emotional indicators like fatigue, bloating, nausea or mood swings can also garner attention, along with scrutiny and conjecture from friends, family members, coworkers and strangers. Jessica Zucker, Good Housekeeping, "Even After Pregnancy Loss, I Was Still Getting Comments About "Looking Pregnant"," 9 Mar. 2021 One of this novel’s striking achievements is to offer murky conjecture in crisp, dry, stately (yet unshowy) prose. Washington Post, "‘The Scapegoat’ is a bizarre, arresting mystery you won’t be able to put down," 9 Mar. 2021 At first glance, Bourgain’s conjecture might seem obviously true. Quanta Magazine, "Statistics Postdoc Tames Decades-Old Geometry Problem," 1 Mar. 2021 Within hours, a narrative built on rumors and partisan conjecture had reached the Twitter megaphones of pro-Trump politicians. New York Times, "How Pro-Trump Forces Pushed a Lie About Antifa at the Capitol Riot," 1 Mar. 2021 The allegations are wide-ranging and based largely on conjecture or conspiracy. Dave Boucher, Detroit Free Press, "Dominion Voting Systems tells Michigan Senate committee it can testify next week," 10 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb In fact, linguists now conjecture that language first arose among hominids to fulfill that most fundamental of impulses: the need to lie. Bill Heavey, Field & Stream, "F&S Classics: The Art of Lying," 13 Dec. 2020 These blundering rhetorical sleights of hand have led some to conjecture that Trump Jr. might represent a more virulent strain of Trumpism, one more thoroughly committed to the goals his father only gestures at flirtatiously. David Roth, The New Republic, "How Don Jr. Became the Future of Trumpism," 27 Oct. 2020 Even if scientists can still only conjecture about the origins of metabolism, these new results offer hope that answers may be in reach — if researchers ask the right questions. Quanta Magazine, "New Clues to Chemical Origins of Metabolism at Dawn of Life," 12 Oct. 2020 O’Leary, the pediatric disease specialist, who himself has had intermittent, on-going COVID symptoms since March, has heard researchers conjecture about what could be driving long-haul symptoms. Popular Science, "Some kids have been suffering from COVID-19 for months," 16 Sep. 2020 O’Leary, the pediatric disease specialist, who himself has had intermittent, on-going Covid symptoms since March, has heard researchers conjecture about what could be driving long-haul symptoms. Megan E. Doherty, Smithsonian Magazine, "What Happens When Children’s Covid-19 Symptoms Won’t Go Away," 11 Sep. 2020 Experts conjecture that over the millennia as many as 50 percent of all the people who ever lived may have died of mosquito-borne diseases. Bill Heavey, Field & Stream, "The 10 Deadliest Animals on Earth," 5 Aug. 2020 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

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

28 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Conjecture.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/conjecture. Accessed 9 May. 2021.

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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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