\ 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 While a ban is in place, says Peter Ben Embarek of the WHO, authorities can then assess the risks, and identify practices that are deemed safe. The Economist, "Curbing zoonotic diseases Will wet markets be hung out to dry after the pandemic?," 26 May 2020 Of those, five have been ruled justifiable and therefore are not deemed criminal. Carol Robinson |, al, "Man fatally gunned down at west Birmingham car detail shop," 25 May 2020 The sectors that have been deemed essential are on the front line of keeping America moving right now. Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, "An A.F.L.-C.I.O. Adviser Considers the Future of American Workers," 15 May 2020 Offices that haven’t been deemed essential that have multiple employees may not reopen yet. Tom Steele, Dallas News, "Texas businesses can begin reopening Friday. Here are answers to key questions about the governor’s plan," 28 Apr. 2020 Oregonians are split about whether to release inmates from Oregon’s jails and prisons who have fewer than 12 months remaining on their terms or who are deemed low risk to the community (51% overall support). oregonlive, "Oregonians strongly oppose prisoner releases in response to coronavirus, new survey finds," 24 Apr. 2020 Mairo Cinquetti/Nurphoto via Getty As Italy's coronavirus quarantine restrictions are slowly lifting, the beloved country — that was once deemed the epicenter of the virus in Europe — still has a long way to go before la vita è...normal. Alison Fox, Travel + Leisure, "How to Help Italy During the Coronavirus Pandemic No Matter Where You Are in the World," 24 Apr. 2020 Healthcare workers, grocery-store clerks, couriers, and others whose labor has been deemed essential continue to put their own lives at risk. Sarah Todd, Quartz, "We’re all living in “The Yellow Wallpaper” now," 18 Apr. 2020 Unsurprisingly, much of what the Criterion Channel features are titles that could be deemed culturally significant and vital to the study of cinema. Maureen Lee Lenker,, "How Criterion Channel can give you the perfect film-school education in quarantine," 17 Apr. 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

30 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Deem.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 31 May. 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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