inference

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

Definition of inference

  1. 1 :  the act or process of inferring (see infer): such asa :  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 formerb :  the act of passing from statistical sample data to generalizations (as of the value of population parameters) usually with calculated degrees of certainty

  2. 2 :  something that is inferred; especially :  a conclusion or opinion that is formed because of known facts or evidence

  3. 3 :  the premises and conclusion of a process of inferring

Examples of inference in a Sentence

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. Its existence is only known by inference.

  5. The program uses records of past purchases to make inferences about what customers will buy in the future.

  6. What inference can we draw from these facts?

Recent Examples of inference from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of inference

see infer


INFERENCE Defined for English Language Learners

inference

play
noun

Definition of inference for English Language Learners

  • : 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 Defined for Kids

inference

play
noun in·fer·ence \ˈin-fə-rəns\

Definition of inference for Students

  1. 1 :  the act or process of reaching a conclusion about something from known facts

  2. 2 :  a conclusion or opinion reached based on known facts


Law Dictionary

inference

play
noun in·fer·ence \ˈin-fə-rəns\

Legal Definition of inference

  1. 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. 2 :  something inferred; especially :  a proposition arrived at by inference — see also permissive presumption at presumption

  3. 3 :  the premises and conclusions of a process of inferring



Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up inference? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

cleverly stylish

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Time Traveler Quiz: Which Word Came First?

  • time-traveler-quiz-which-word-came-first
  • Which came first?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!