infer

verb
in·​fer | \ in-ˈfər How to pronounce infer (audio) \
inferred; inferring

Definition of infer

transitive verb

1 : to derive as a conclusion from facts or premises we see smoke and infer fire— L. A. White — compare imply
2 : guess, surmise your letter … allows me to infer that you are as well as ever— O. W. Holmes †1935
3a : to involve as a normal outcome of thought
b : to point out : indicate this doth infer the zeal I had to see him— William Shakespeare another survey … infers that two-thirds of all present computer installations are not paying for themselves— H. R. Chellman
4 : suggest, hint are you inferring I'm incompetent?

intransitive verb

: to draw inferences men … have observed, inferred, and reasoned … to all kinds of results— John Dewey

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Other Words from infer

inferable or less commonly inferrible \ in-​ˈfər-​ə-​bəl How to pronounce inferrible (audio) \ adjective
inferrer \ in-​ˈfər-​ər How to pronounce inferrer (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for infer

infer, deduce, conclude, judge, gather mean to arrive at a mental conclusion. infer implies arriving at a conclusion by reasoning from evidence; if the evidence is slight, the term comes close to surmise. from that remark, I inferred that they knew each other deduce often adds to infer the special implication of drawing a particular inference from a generalization. denied we could deduce anything important from human mortality conclude implies arriving at a necessary inference at the end of a chain of reasoning. concluded that only the accused could be guilty judge stresses a weighing of the evidence on which a conclusion is based. judge people by their actions gather suggests an intuitive forming of a conclusion from implications. gathered their desire to be alone without a word

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 infer in a Sentence

May I remark here that although I seem to infer that private communication is an unholy mess of grammatical barbarism,  … such is not my intent … — V. Louise Higgins, "Approaching Usage in the Classroom," English JournalMarch 1960 … I infer that Swinburne found an adequate outlet for the creative impulse in his poetry … — T. S. Eliot, The Sacred Wood, 1920 Lucy … reseated herself with an alacrity and cheerfulness which seemed to infer that she could taste no greater delight … — Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility, 1811 It's difficult to infer how these changes will affect ordinary citizens. Are you inferring that I'm wrong?
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Recent Examples on the Web The idea was to use prior patterns to infer what a student would have scored in a 2020 not dominated by a deadly pandemic. Tom Simonite, Wired, "An Algorithm Set Students’ Grades—and Altered Their Futures," 10 July 2020 For decades scientists could only speculate about much of the evolutionary history of oaks because of gaps in their fossil record and limitations of the biomolecular techniques used to infer evolutionary events from the DNA of living organisms. Andrew L. Hipp, Scientific American, "How Oak Trees Evolved to Rule the Forests of the Northern Hemisphere," 15 July 2020 But to infer he wasn’t fully engaged would be a mistake. Kevin Sherrington, Dallas News, "Mack Brown’s second act at North Carolina is already a rare feat for ex-Texas coaches and he’s just getting started," 10 July 2020 Freedom Watch argued that the court could infer an agreement primarily from the platforms’ parallel behavior, as each company purportedly refused to provide certain services to Freedom Watch. Jack Greiner, The Enquirer, "Strictly Legal: Freedom watch suit against social media platforms tossed. Again.," 30 June 2020 But researchers have been trying to infer the less epic, more familiar worlds that Kepler couldn’t quite make out ever since. Charlie Wood, Popular Science, "There should be billions of Earths out there. Why can’t we find them?," 24 June 2020 Most satellites have to infer wind speed by tracking the movements of clouds or tiny aerosol particles. Eric Niiler, Wired, "A Drop in Commercial Flights Is Bad for Hurricane Forecasts," 4 June 2020 Just as one can infer what a missing jigsaw puzzle piece might look like by observing pieces already in place, Simons’s team made deductions about the missing information and inputted it into its database. Gregory Zuckerman, Quartz, "The history of blunders and missteps that led to the quant trading revolution," 6 Nov. 2019 Ashley Feinberg then used that limited data to infer that the Pierre Delecto account was, in fact, Romney. William Cummings, USA TODAY, "'C'est moi': Mitt Romney has been tweeting under the secret account, Pierre Delecto, reports say," 21 Oct. 2019

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

1528, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for infer

Middle French or Latin; Middle French inferer, from Latin inferre, literally, to carry or bring into, from in- + ferre to carry — more at bear

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Time Traveler for infer

Time Traveler

The first known use of infer was in 1528

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Statistics for infer

Last Updated

29 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Infer.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/infer. Accessed 9 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for infer

infer

verb
How to pronounce infer (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of infer

: to form (an opinion) from evidence : to reach (a conclusion) based on known facts
informal : to hint or suggest (something)

infer

verb
in·​fer | \ in-ˈfər How to pronounce infer (audio) \
inferred; inferring

Kids Definition of infer

1 : to arrive at as a conclusion based on known facts I inferred he was sick from his cough.
2 : guess entry 1 sense 1 From the look on her face, I inferred she was lying.
3 : hint entry 2, suggest Are you inferring I'm guilty?

infer

verb
in·​fer | \ in-ˈfər How to pronounce infer (audio) \
inferred; inferring

Legal Definition of infer

transitive verb

: to derive as a conclusion from facts or premises could infer acceptance of the offer from the offeree's response

intransitive verb

: to draw inferences

Other Words from infer

inferable also inferrible \ in-​ˈfər-​ə-​bəl How to pronounce inferrible (audio) \ adjective

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More from Merriam-Webster on infer

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for infer

Spanish Central: Translation of infer

Nglish: Translation of infer for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of infer for Arabic Speakers

Comments on infer

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