infer

verb
in·fer | \ in-ˈfər \
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 \ adjective
inferrer \in-ˈfər-ər \ 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

There is much less actual Scrabble playing in this book — which is told in alternating chapters, over nearly a week — than the reader might infer from looking at the book’s cover, with its oversize letter tiles floating on water like life rafts. New York Times, "In a Newbery Medalist’s Latest Novel, Friends Find Solace in Words," 24 May 2018 When combined with more conventional geophysical methods, these images could help volcanologists infer which parts would blow up first during an eruption, says D’Alessandro. Elizabeth Gibney, Scientific American, "Muons: The Little-known Particles Helping to Probe the Impenetrable," 28 May 2018 The 470-word release infers several times that Karvelis used the Socialism Conference 2018 to kick off the #InvestinEd ballot measure campaign. Ricardo Cano, azcentral, "Name-calling begins in battle over #InvestInEd ballot measure," 12 July 2018 DeConto and Pollard inferred that modern warming of about 2.5ºC in 2100 would raise sea levels 5.7 meters (19 feet) by the year 2500—about four feet per century. Howard Lee, Ars Technica, "What happened last time it was as warm as it’s going to get later this century?," 18 June 2018 Wertheim and Fischer infer that DeAngelo’s alleged misconduct took place when the undercover agent met with Dawkins in Vegas. Michael Mccann, SI.com, "Examining the NCAA Probe: Did the FBI Unfairly Target Christian Dawkins?," 23 May 2018 Most of the rest was inferred using direct or indirect indicators, such as by taking the number of housing starts as a proxy for dollars invested in new home construction. Jason Furman, WSJ, "The Economy Is Growing Faster Than the Government Says," 9 July 2018 Little can be inferred about the role such monuments played in Neolithic cultures. Fox News, "German ‘Stonehenge’ site reveals 10 dismembered bodies of women, children," 1 July 2018 But if all segments are visible in the example image, the network is remarkably good at inferring the shape of the piece and rendering images of it from any angle. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Google researchers created an amazing scene-rendering AI," 29 June 2018

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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Statistics for infer

Last Updated

8 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for infer

The first known use of infer was in 1528

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More Definitions for infer

infer

verb

English Language Learners Definition of infer

: to form (an opinion) from evidence : to reach (a conclusion) based on known facts

: to hint or suggest (something)

infer

verb
in·fer | \ in-ˈfər \
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 \
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 \ 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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