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 Although Krishnamurthy’s newest findings might seem to imply that RNA and DNA arose simultaneously — instead of RNA appearing first and then producing DNA — that just represents one possible scenario. Quanta Magazine, "Origin-of-Life Study Points to Chemical Chimeras, Not RNA," 16 Sep. 2019 As its name implies, LightSail 2 is not the first solar sail. Robert Z. Pearlman, Scientific American, "Solar Sailing Success: Planetary Society Deploys LightSail 2," 23 July 2019 Brunt of Bollywood’s backlash Wasim’s post mentioned that being a part of the showbiz threatened her relationship with her religion, implying that the profession was immoral. Ananya Bhattacharya, Quartz India, "Amidst its many crises, India’s obsessing over an 18-year-old’s decision to quit Bollywood," 3 July 2019 The targets also implied an unusually aggressive reduction in price pressure, points out Rafael Di Tella of Harvard Business School. The Economist, "Were Mauricio Macri’s mainstream policies doomed from the start?," 14 Sep. 2019 This implied something on the order of 2.2 to 2.5 million defensive gun uses annually. Robert Verbruggen, National Review, "Do Guns Help People Defend Themselves?," 12 Sep. 2019 This implied that song complexity and the learning window could influence one another’s evolution, but we had not yet shown that this was the case. Cristina Robinson, The Conversation, "Complex birdsongs help biologists piece together the evolution of lifelong learning," 3 Sep. 2019 Before the 2013 opener at Cal, Fitzgerald implied that no first-year players would have a significant role. Teddy Greenstein, chicagotribune.com, "6 things to know about Northwestern’s opener at Stanford, starting with the big question: Will it be Hunter Johnson or TJ Green at QB?," 27 Aug. 2019 While Gagnon encouraged French Canadians to pursue U.S. citizenship, for him naturalization implied a narrow contract. David Vernette, Smithsonian, "When an Influx of French-Canadian Immigrants Struck Fear Into Americans," 21 Aug. 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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Statistics for imply

Last Updated

5 Nov 2019

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
How to pronounce imply (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for imply

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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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