inference

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

So is there an inference to be made from that or is that just an observation. Andrea Bernstein, ProPublica, "“Trump, Inc.” and Former FBI Deputy Chief Andrew McCabe Compare Notes," 29 May 2019 This inference includes, but is not limited to taking discriminatory action. Alexis Jones, Marie Claire, "Taylor Swift Donated More Than $100k to Fight These Disgusting Anti-LGBTQ Bills," 9 Apr. 2019 Waiting until late 2019 risks potentially fatal inference from the U.S. presidential campaigns. Vivian Salama, WSJ, "New Nafta Is Threatened by Partisan Split Over Enforcement," 13 Feb. 2019 But that can get tricky, and the stakes are high that the person might accidentally let on more than anticipated or that the inference still gives away too much. Katherine J. Igoe, Marie Claire, "What Happens If You Break an NDA? Jordyn Woods Is Reportedly About to Find Out," 28 Feb. 2019 Any inference or subsequent intervention that aims at changing the behavior of a user should be fully transparent, and ideally scrutinized by an ethical review committee. Brian Resnick, Vox, "Is our constant use of digital technologies affecting our brain health? We asked 11 experts.," 29 Nov. 2018 The inference, though, was clear: from Ice Lake to Cascade Lake to Snow Ridge, Intel’s migrated its entire product lineup to 10nm. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Intel reveals its 10nm Ice Lake Core and stacked Lakefield CPUs, and 'Project Athena' for laptops," 7 Jan. 2019 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

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

17 Jun 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 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

inference

noun
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

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Comments on inference

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