inference

noun
in·​fer·​ence | \ ˈin-f(ə-)rən(t)s, -fərn(t)s\

Definition of inference

1 : the act or process of inferring (see infer): such as
a : the act of passing from one proposition, statement, or judgment considered as true to another whose truth is believed to follow from that of the former
b : the act of passing from statistical sample data to generalizations (as of the value of population parameters) usually with calculated degrees of certainty
2 : something that is inferred especially : a conclusion or opinion that is formed because of known facts or evidence
3 : the premises and conclusion of a process of inferring

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Examples of inference in a Sentence

In spite of the fact that there are virtually no controlled clinical trials examining the effects of obesity in people, we can make some inferences from animal research. — Patrick Johnson, Skeptical Inquirer, September/October 2005 We cannot see a past event directly, but science is usually based on inference, not unvarnished observation (you don't see electrons, gravity, or black holes either). — Stephen Jay Gould, Wonderful Life, 1989 The writer of science fiction extends or projects or draws inferences from what is known and accepted. — Karl Kroeber, Romantic Fantasy and Science Fiction, 1988 Its existence is only known by inference. The program uses records of past purchases to make inferences about what customers will buy in the future. What inference can we draw from these facts?
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Recent Examples on the Web

Admittedly, assuming all these examples really are based on the real Leonardo is a probabilistic inference, so there will naturally be some skepticism. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Da Vinci’s possible vision disorder may have influenced his art," 18 Oct. 2018 This allows a malicious program to make inferences about the values stored in memory. Peter Bright, Ars Technica, "Intel’s SGX blown wide open by, you guessed it, a speculative execution attack," 14 Aug. 2018 But this was a small town, and inference and gossip did not keep many secrets. Barbara Benson, chicagotribune.com, "Column: Barrington newspaper archive provides glimpse of past lives," 15 Mar. 2018 Giuliani made an assumption about the first lady's state of mind, and there is little evidence to back up his inference. Callum Borchers, Washington Post, "Melania Trump’s rebuke of Rudy Giuliani is a reminder that she isn’t speaking up for the president," 8 June 2018 Bendy displays may not signal high-techness (via inference or trope) as much as transparent displays or VP [volumetric projection]. Sean Hollister, The Verge, "Science fiction shows why Samsung’s folding phones might thrive," 14 Nov. 2018 The idea, says Gadi Singer, in charge of the firm’s AI products, is to have an entire portfolio of processors, each with its own specialisation—for neural networks, for self-driving cars and for inference at the edge. The Economist, "Artificial intelligence is awakening the chip industry’s animal spirits," 7 June 2018 Men aren’t any different from women in this, or at least there isn’t any scientific evidence of biological differences in active inference. Lisa Feldman Barrett, Time, "Why Men Need to Stop Relying on Non-Verbal Consent, According to a Neuroscientist," 11 May 2018 Is all of that enough to support the observer’s inference that the judge cannot be impartial on the relevant questions (or at least that the judge’s participation raises reasonable questions about his or her impartiality)? Mark Tushnet, Vox, "Is it anti-Catholic to ask a Supreme Court nominee how her religion affects her decisions?," 5 July 2018

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

1594, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for inference

see infer

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Statistics for inference

Last Updated

14 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for inference

The first known use of inference was in 1594

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More Definitions for inference

inference

noun

English Language Learners Definition of inference

: the act or process of reaching a conclusion about something from known facts or evidence

: a conclusion or opinion that is formed because of known facts or evidence

inference

noun
in·​fer·​ence | \ ˈin-fə-rəns \

Kids Definition of inference

1 : the act or process of reaching a conclusion about something from known facts
2 : a conclusion or opinion reached based on known facts

inference

noun
in·​fer·​ence | \ ˈin-fə-rəns \

Legal Definition of inference

1 : the act or process of inferring specifically : the act of passing from one proposition, statement, or judgment considered as true to another whose truth is believed to follow logically from that of the former
2 : something inferred especially : a proposition arrived at by inference — see also permissive presumption at presumption
3 : the premises and conclusions of a process of inferring

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Comments on inference

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to gather or build up little by little

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