im·ply | \ im-ˈplī \
implied; implying

Definition of imply 

transitive verb

1 obsolete : enfold, entwine

2 : to involve or indicate by inference, association, or necessary consequence rather than by direct statement rights imply obligations

3 : to contain potentially

4 : to express indirectly Her remarks implied a threat. The news report seems to imply his death was not an accident.

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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

On June 11, also known as Degrassi Day, Next Class actress Amanda Arcuri tweeted a message which some fans interpreted as implying the show would not continue., "Wait, Does Drake's New Music Video Mean Degrassi Is Canceled?," 14 June 2018 Al Jazeera is trying to find out whether the investigators influenced Sly to recant his initial statement implying that the star quarterback ordered drugs under his wife's name. Laken Litman, Indianapolis Star, "HGH sent to Peyton Manning's home, but lawyers say it wasn't for QB according to report," 11 June 2018 His family previously released a statement implying the star died from suicide. Melody Chiu,, "Avicii Laid to Rest in Private Funeral Nearly 2 Months After Sudden Death," 11 June 2018 Hush, now; anyone implying there is nothing new under the sun would risk being tarred and feathered at this particular venue. Leah Garchik, San Francisco Chronicle, "The winners and the sufferers, and the aftermath of election day," 10 June 2018 Even Duquette concedes that the correlation doesn’t imply causation. Jon Meoli,, "Modern analytics paired with traditional scouting helped Orioles land lefty Zac Lowther in 2017 draft," 4 June 2018 Contrary to what the name implies, some women with PCOS don’t have any ovarian cysts at all. Cari Romm, The Cut, "Everything to Know About a New Study on the Causes of PCOS," 18 May 2018 The One Orlando Alliance has retracted its offer to make Patricia Todd, Alabama's only openly gay state legislator, its new executive director after Todd posted comments on social media implying that Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey is gay. Kate Santich,, "One Orlando Alliance pulls offer to Patricia Todd after tweet implying Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey is gay," 17 May 2018 While there are no specific stories about the Devil's Postpile, the name implies a supernatural feeling around the place. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Scientists Uncover the Secret of Strange, Geometrical Rock Formations," 12 Apr. 2018

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 1

History and Etymology for imply

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

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Statistics for imply

Last Updated

10 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for imply

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

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More Definitions for imply



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


im·ply | \ im-ˈplī \
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 \
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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Comments on imply

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


a magnificent or impressive array

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