\ ˈdēm How to pronounce deem (audio) \
deemed; deeming; deems

Definition of deem

transitive verb

: to come to think or judge : consider deemed it wise to go slow those whom she deemed worthy a movie deemed appropriate for all ages

intransitive verb

: to have an opinion : believe

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Synonyms for deem


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In the Middle Ages, "demen" was a fateful word. Closely related to "doom," this precursor of deem meant "to act as a judge" or "to sentence, condemn, or decree." These meanings passed to "deem" itself, but we haven't used "deem" to mean "legally condemn" since the early 17th century. Though "deem" is still frequently used in law contexts, today it means "judge" only in a broader sense of "to decide (something specified) regarding," as in "the act was deemed unlawful" or "the defendant is deemed to have agreed to the contract." Outside of the law, "deem" usually means simply "to consider." Some usage commentators consider "deem" pretentious, but its use is well established in both literary and journalistic contexts. We deem it perfectly acceptable.

Examples of deem in a Sentence

The principal will take whatever action she deems appropriate in this case. I deem it fitting that we mark this solemn occasion with a day of prayer and thanksgiving.
Recent Examples on the Web Because of this, the international financial system may soon deem Lebanon's banks untouchable, said Shaar. Tamara Qiblawi, CNN, "As the US rolls out new sanctions on Assad, Syria braces for economic devastation," 17 June 2020 The State Department can deem a person or group as Specially Designated Global Terrorists or Foreign Terrorist Organizations, but no terrorist status exists for violent domestic groups, such as the KKK or antifa, a leftist movement. Anna Giaritelli, Washington Examiner, "Massive online petition to designate KKK a terrorist organization is futile," 16 June 2020 Fans will not be allowed to attend until state and local agencies deem it safe, but a free broadcast of every game will be available on Facebook Live and YouTube Live. oregonlive, "Baseball in 2020: Portland Pickles announce formation of Wild Wild West League," 14 June 2020 The lawsuit notes that Jones joined Alabama as an offensive analyst making $35,000 per year but that Tennessee did not deem him in violation of his obligation to mitigate. Dan Wolken, USA TODAY, "Former Arkansas coach Bret Bielema files lawsuit against Razorback Foundation alleging it violated buyout agreement," 12 June 2020 That said, hotels will only reopen for leisure travel after both state and county health agencies deem the public health risk is low enough to operate with relative safety. Nick Rahaim,, "Is it safe to stay in hotels during coronavirus?," 11 June 2020 Even if antifa were a real organization, the laws that permit the federal government to deem entities terrorists and impose sanctions on them are limited to foreign groups., "Many claim extremists are sparking protest violence, but which extremists?," 1 June 2020 More important, even if antifa were a real organization, the laws that permit the federal government to deem entities terrorists and impose sanctions on them are limited to foreign groups. New York Times, "Many Claim Extremists Are Sparking Protest Violence. But Which Extremists?," 31 May 2020 Those who violate the law are deemed criminals — fair enough. Michelle Weber, Longreads, "The PTSD of Everyday Life," 10 June 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'deem.' 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 deem

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for deem

Middle English demen, from Old English dēman; akin to Old High German tuomen to judge, Old English dōm doom

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Time Traveler for deem

Time Traveler

The first known use of deem was before the 12th century

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Last Updated

27 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Deem.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for deem


How to pronounce deem (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of deem

formal : to think of (someone or something) in a particular way


\ ˈdēm How to pronounce deem (audio) \
deemed; deeming

Kids Definition of deem

: to have as an opinion She deemed it wise to wait.

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More from Merriam-Webster on deem

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for deem

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with deem

Spanish Central: Translation of deem

Nglish: Translation of deem for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of deem for Arabic Speakers

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