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

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 If, however, Director Brennan's statement is purely political and based on conjecture, the president has full authority to revoke his security clearance as head of the executive branch. Fox News, "Adm. Mike Mullen on ex-intel officials keeping clearances; Mulvaney on potential storm clouds ahead for Trump economy," 19 Aug. 2018 Once again the impression that these people are at once real and fictional adds piquancy to the dialogue, which aims not to set forth verities but to pursue conjectures. Dan Hofstadter, WSJ, "‘Diderot’ Review: Wherever His Mind Led Him," 15 Feb. 2019 This is just conjecture, so don't take my word for it. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "Here’s When "Riverdale" Season 3 Will Most Likely Be Available on Netflix," 23 Jan. 2019 The Aviationist even suggested that one of the spotted F-117s might have been flying without a pilot—conjecture based on the fact that one of the planes appears to not have a communications antenna on its dorsal spine. Jay Bennett, Popular Mechanics, "Why Were Two F-117s Flying Over Nevada?," 23 Sep. 2016 Instead of conjecture and opinion, The Root decided to use our proprietary scientific algorithm based on Beckynometry, the mathematical study of white women, to finally determine which is the greater of the two Trump Beckys. Michael Harriot, The Root, "Melania Trump vs. Ivanka Trump: Who Is the Beckiest of Them All?," 22 June 2018 Like Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster, the Coso Artifact became the subject of widespread conjecture and speculation. Erik Lacitis, The Seattle Times, "Proof of alien visitors? Artifact from an ancient civilization? The truth is out there — in Seattle," 1 Dec. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 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

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

18 Apr 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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