in·​fer·​ence | \ ˈin-f(ə-)rən(t)s How to pronounce inference (audio) , -fərn(t)s \

Definition of inference

1 : something that is inferred especially : a conclusion or opinion that is formed because of known facts or evidence
2 : 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
3 : the premises and conclusion of a process of inferring

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? See More
Recent Examples on the Web What’s pernicious is the inference that things will never get better. Brennan Barnard, Forbes, 6 July 2022 The Supreme Court has said that allowing that inference penalizes defendants for simply availing themselves of a constitutional protection. Jennifer Peltz, ajc, 14 July 2022 And this bill will provide the administrative framework to ensure that state contracts and purchases are conducted fairly, cost-effectively and without any inference or evidence of impropriety. Globe Staff,, 7 July 2022 In his 1924 book Social Psychology, Allport made a sweeping inference from Darwin’s writing to say that expressions begin as vestigial in newborns but quickly assume useful social functions. Lisa Feldman Barrett, Scientific American, 27 Apr. 2022 D-Matrix has mixed the accuracy and predictability of digital hardware with super-efficient IMC to create what D-Matrix believes is the first DIMC architecture for inference at the data center. Karl Freund, Forbes, 21 June 2022 Unlike in a criminal case, a judge in a bankruptcy proceeding can draw an adverse inference from a witness who cites the Fifth Amendment in refusing to answer questions or testify. Patrick Danner, San Antonio Express-News, 9 June 2022 While statements in columns don’t ordinarily constitute defamation, Virginia law recognizes that there can be defamation by inference or implication. Winston Cho, The Hollywood Reporter, 3 May 2022 Dominique Fawn Hill’s costumes accentuate the assertive individuality of several of the characters and, by inference, how their life choices and divergent paths have led to their growing apart. Washington Post, 31 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of inference

1594, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for inference

see infer

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Time Traveler for inference

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The first known use of inference was in 1594

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Last Updated

31 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Inference.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for inference


in·​fer·​ence | \ ˈin-fə-rəns How to pronounce inference (audio) \

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


in·​fer·​ence | \ ˈin-fə-rəns How to pronounce inference (audio) \

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

More from Merriam-Webster on inference

Nglish: Translation of inference for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of inference for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about inference


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