\ 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 Moro brought charges of corruption and money-laundering against Lula, though many deemed the evidence as less than convincing, and sentenced him. Jon Lee Anderson, The New Yorker, "What Do Lula’s Release and Morales’s Ouster Signal for Latin America?," 13 Nov. 2019 Those works brought on a flurry of media attention that deemed her a pop artist., "NEW YORK — Gillian Jagger, an artist guided by a deep-seated connection to nature and best known for imposing sculptures and installations that often incorporated tree trunks and animal carcasses, died Oct. 21 in Ellenville, in upstate New York. She was 88.," 11 Nov. 2019 One, the liberty risk, comes from a term for when a ship’s commanding officer deems that a trouble-making sailor should be kept on board rather than allowed to roam at port. Christina Tkacik,, "Whiskey and sea stories: How the bonds between military veterans launched this Baltimore distillery," 8 Nov. 2019 Those works brought on a flurry of media attention that deemed her a Pop artist. Jillian Steinhauer, New York Times, "Gillian Jagger, Sculptor Whose Medium Was Nature, Dies at 88," 8 Nov. 2019 Instead, Waiters remained in the locker room, yet to join teammates on the bench since being suspended for the Oct. 23 season-opening victory over the Memphis Grizzlies for what the Heat deemed as conduct detrimental to the team. Ira Winderman,, "In praising Dragic, did Heat’s Spoelstra send a message to Waiters?," 8 Nov. 2019 The central government remains capable of cruel chauvinism towards minorities deemed a threat to national unity. The Economist, "In China, capitalism breeds new respect for dialects," 7 Nov. 2019 Because it was designed to be less expensive than the foreign alternative, the technology is accessible to all—not just to those a bank deems worthy. Wired, "Opinion: The Global South Is Redefining Tech Innovation," 7 Nov. 2019 Beyond the state, corporations have long neglected this populace, deeming them high-risk and not worth the effort. Payal Arora, Quartz, "The biggest myths about the next billion internet users," 5 Nov. 2019

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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Last Updated

15 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for deem

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

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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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