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

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 Only through astounding leaps of bad faith could someone draw any nefarious inferences from them. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "Anatomy of a Pro-Trump Conspiracy Theory," 22 May 2018 Bayesian inference considers both the strength of new evidence and the strength of your existing hypotheses. Alison Gopnik, Scientific American, "Artificial Intelligence Helps in Learning How Children Learn," 1 June 2017 And the problem again is that the observer concerned with impartiality can’t tell which inference to draw. Mark Tushnet, Vox, "Is it anti-Catholic to ask a Supreme Court nominee how her religion affects her decisions?," 5 July 2018 In terms of distinguishing the two, conversion contemplates more consequential inference or damage than does trespass to chattels. Michael Mccann, SI.com, "Should the NCAA Be Worried About the Lawsuit It's Facing From Former Louisville Players?," 12 July 2018 Working within the framework of now-familiar facts, Mr. Weinraub, a former New York Times journalist, has built scenes, dialogue and even characters from what is at best inference and at worst convenient tendentiousness. Jesse Green, New York Times, "Review: Putting Arthur Miller on Trial in ‘Fall’," 1 June 2018 These performance differences can be measured, allowing inferences to be made about the mappings currently stored in the TLB. Peter Bright, Ars Technica, "Hyperthreading under scrutiny with new TLBleed crypto key leak," 25 June 2018 In both regular cache side channels and TLBleed, these minute performance variations allow inferences to be made about exactly which data (for cache side channels) or memory addresses (for TLBleed) has been accessed by the victim program. Peter Bright, Ars Technica, "Hyperthreading under scrutiny with new TLBleed crypto key leak," 25 June 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

4 Nov 2018

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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