inference

noun
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

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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 My findings are only inferences from publicly available data, and it should be noted that the two surveys have different methodologies and ask different questions that may shape respondents’ answers. Christopher Michaelson, The Conversation, "How CEOs, experts and philosophers see the world’s biggest risks differently," 27 Jan. 2020 These studies have yielded putative disease-causing variants and, by inference, putative disease-causing genes. John Stuelpnagel, Fortune, "An Explosion of Knowledge: Multiplexed Interventional Genomics," 13 Jan. 2020 Matta Clark’s inference — that everything is temporary, and disposable — first made in the ’70s, now feels like the proverbial canary in a coal mine, with a planet poised at the edge of ruin. BostonGlobe.com, "ALICJA KWADE: IN BETWEEN GLANCES," 11 Oct. 2019 Their best inference is that the extreme consumption poverty rate in the US in 2011 was around 0.07 percent, strikingly close to the Meyer estimate. Dylan Matthews, Vox, "How many Americans live on $2 a day? The biggest debate in poverty research, explained.," 5 June 2019 This inference was, at least, undiplomatic and, perhaps, reckless. Amy Davidson Sorkin, The New Yorker, "What to Make of the Dispute Between Warren and Sanders at the Democratic Debate?," 15 Jan. 2020 But over time, a handful of repeating burst sites have been identified, allowing the galaxy of at least one source to be identified and a few inferences about its properties to be inferred. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Closest-ever fast radio burst makes some ideas on their origin less likely," 7 Jan. 2020 Residents may also obtain the inferences that companies have made about their behavior, attitudes, activities, psychology or predispositions. Natasha Singer, New York Times, "What Does California’s New Data Privacy Law Mean? Nobody Agrees," 29 Dec. 2019 In both cases, the inference is central to the conclusion and the wellspring of righteous indignation. CBS News, "The House Judiciary Committee voted to impeach President Trump. Here's what happens next.," 14 Dec. 2019

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 2

History and Etymology for inference

see infer

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Time Traveler for inference

Time Traveler

The first known use of inference was in 1594

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Statistics for inference

Last Updated

11 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Inference.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/inferences. Accessed 18 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for inference

inference

noun
How to pronounce inference (audio)

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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