imply

verb
im·​ply | \ im-ˈplī How to pronounce imply (audio) \
implied; implying

Definition of imply

transitive verb

1 : to express indirectly Her remarks implied a threat. The news report seems to imply his death was not an accident.
2 : to involve or indicate by inference, association, or necessary consequence rather than by direct statement rights imply obligations
3 : to contain potentially
4 obsolete : enfold, entwine

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Choose the Right Synonym for imply

suggest, imply, hint, intimate, insinuate mean to convey an idea indirectly. suggest may stress putting into the mind by association of ideas, awakening of a desire, or initiating a train of thought. a film title that suggests its subject matter imply is close to suggest but may indicate a more definite or logical relation of the unexpressed idea to the expressed. measures implying that bankruptcy was imminent hint implies the use of slight or remote suggestion with a minimum of overt statement. hinted that she might get the job intimate stresses delicacy of suggestion without connoting any lack of candor. intimates that there is more to the situation than meets the eye insinuate applies to the conveying of a usually unpleasant idea in a sly underhanded manner. insinuated that there were shady dealings

Infer vs. Imply: Usage Guide

Sir Thomas More is the first writer known to have used both infer and imply in their approved senses in 1528 (with infer meaning "to deduce from facts" and imply meaning "to hint at"). He is also the first to have used infer in a sense close in meaning to imply (1533). Both of these uses of infer coexisted without comment until some time around the end of World War I. Since then, the "indicate" and "hint or suggest" meanings of infer have been frequently condemned as an undesirable blurring of a useful distinction. The actual blurring has been done by the commentators. The "indicate" sense of infer, descended from More's use of 1533, does not occur with a personal subject. When objections arose, they were to a use with a personal subject (which is now considered a use of the "suggest, hint" sense of infer). Since dictionaries did not recognize this use specifically, the objectors assumed that the "indicate" sense was the one they found illogical, even though it had been in respectable use for four centuries. The actual usage condemned was a spoken one never used in logical discourse. At present the condemned "suggest, hint" sense is found in print chiefly in letters to the editor and other informal prose, not in serious intellectual writing. The controversy over the "suggest, hint" sense has apparently reduced the frequency with which the "indicate" sense of infer is used.

Examples of imply in a Sentence

Early reports implied that the judge's death was not an accident. His words implied a threat. War implies fighting and death.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Markle has also implied that her child will be raised with gender equality in mind. Vogue, "How Meghan Markle Is Already Doing Motherhood Differently," 26 Mar. 2019 Sunday in Chicago, Mr. Sanders implied that people no longer view him as a Marxist kook. James Freeman, WSJ, "Will Democratic Primary Voters Tolerate a Liberal?," 4 Mar. 2019 Wearing one implies that remembering people is too much work and interacting with them is a chore. Adi Robertson, The Verge, "You can buy a wearable camera to track your social life," 12 Dec. 2018 Still, Snapchat’s decision to add more shows certainly implies that the shows are working. Kurt Wagner, Recode, "Snapchat’s plan to reinvent TV may actually be working," 10 Oct. 2018 But the complaint implies the donor could have been legally prohibited from contributing to Greitens' campaign. Jason Hancock, kansascity, "Top Pence aide Nick Ayers denies breaking the law while running Greitens campaign," 11 July 2018 The lawsuit implies more athletes face a similar situation but does not provide details. David Jesse, Detroit Free Press, "Eastern Michigan athletic program under federal investigation," 10 July 2018 This implies effective membership of the single market for goods. The Economist, "Britain’s new Brexit plan is savaged—by its own Brexit secretary," 9 July 2018 All this messaging, combined, implies things are not well with the Stranger Things kids. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "7 Stranger Things Season 3 Fan Theories That Will Turn Your Mind Upside Down," 22 Mar. 2019

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4

History and Etymology for imply

Middle English emplien, from Anglo-French emplier to entangle — more at employ

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Learn More about imply

Dictionary Entries near imply

implumed

implunge

impluvium

imply

impocket

impofo

impolder

Statistics for imply

Last Updated

23 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for imply

The first known use of imply was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for imply

imply

verb

English Language Learners Definition of imply

: to express (something) in an indirect way : to suggest (something) without saying or showing it plainly
: to include or involve (something) as a natural or necessary part or result

imply

verb
im·​ply | \ im-ˈplī How to pronounce imply (audio) \
implied; implying

Kids Definition of imply

: to express indirectly : suggest rather than say plainly Your remark implies that I am wrong.
im·​ply | \ im-ˈplī How to pronounce imply (audio) \
implied; implying

Legal Definition of imply

1 : to recognize as existing by inference or necessary consequence especially on legal or equitable grounds in ordinary circumstances…the law would imply that it was the duty of the hospital to use due careHaase v. Starnes, 915 S.W.2d 675 (1996)
2 : to make known indirectly

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More from Merriam-Webster on imply

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with imply

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for imply

Spanish Central: Translation of imply

Nglish: Translation of imply for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of imply for Arabic Speakers

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