\ 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


allow [chiefly Southern & Midland], believe, conceive, consider, esteem, feel, figure, guess, hold, imagine, judge, reckon [chiefly dialect], suppose, think

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Did You Know?

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

Federal, state, and local governments forgo billions of dollars in taxes to tax-exempt entities that have been deemed to meet a pressing societal need. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "Tax-exempt hospital sues thousands of poor people while making millions," 27 June 2019 Quarantines are rare punishments imposed on only the forums Reddit has deemed most offensive or upsetting. Anchorage Daily News, "Pro-Trump message board ‘quarantined’ by Reddit following violent threats," 26 June 2019 The fire at the Philadelphia Energy Solutions Refining Complex was deemed contained and controlled but continued to burn late Friday afternoon, said Craig Murphy, deputy fire commissioner. Washington Post, "Explosions, fire rock US oil refinery; gas prices could rise," 21 June 2019 While Cheerios haven’t been deemed unsafe by the FDA, Health contributing nutrition editor Cynthia Sass, RD, provides some tips for being extra careful in light of this new analysis. Maggie O'neill,, "Does Cheerios Cause Cancer? Everything You Need to Know About Glyphosate," 13 June 2019 After being shut down since last weekend, SeaWorld’s newest coaster, Tidal Twister, has been deemed safe enough to reopen, the San Diego park said Friday. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Tidal Twister reopens at SeaWorld after being shut down for several days," 7 June 2019 The intent is to give ICE time to arrest the individual and begin deportation proceedings, but some courts have deemed the tactic unconstitutional. Tatiana Sanchez,, "Santa Clara county supervisors refuse to change sanctuary policy," 4 June 2019 While only one home — to the right of the Phillips’ home — has been condemned, about six others have been deemed unlivable until they’re inspected by a structural engineer and repairs are made, said Larry Wallace, the city's building commissioner. Matthew Glowicki, The Courier-Journal, "Weeks after the fatal Jeffersonville house explosion, neighbors are still asking 'why'," 19 May 2019 The mayor says that each of those buildings must be thoroughly assessed for the presence of asbestos, and residents won’t be allowed to return home until the buildings have been deemed safe. Korin Miller, SELF, "What to Do if You Think You’ve Been Exposed to Asbestos," 20 July 2018

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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Statistics for deem

Last Updated

12 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for deem

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

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More Definitions for deem



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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with deem

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for deem

Spanish Central: Translation of deem

Nglish: Translation of deem for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of deem for Arabic Speakers

Comments on deem

What made you want to look up deem? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


something desired as essential

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