Definition of inference
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 : 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
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?
Recent Examples of inference from the Web
Those memos, too, though, said the answer was a matter of structure and inference.
That’s a really novel design and relatively convincing compared to correlational studies or studies that are not being rigorous about causal inference.
As Mr. Guess notes, politicians and media outlets therefore tend not only to cater to this highly unrepresentative subset of Americans, but also to draw faulty inferences from them about the public’s preferences.
The second stage is cognitive intelligence, in which machines can go beyond pattern recognition and start making inferences from data.
That number sounds truly terrible given Ms. LaFrance’s apparent inference that the 990 people were innocently going about their day when the police killed them.
The investigators' assumptions and inferences are easily debunked or subject to multiple interpretations.
Woe unto any viewer who saw any socially redeeming inferences in these story (?)
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.
INFERENCE Defined for English Language Learners
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
Definition of inference for Students
1 : the act or process of reaching a conclusion about something from known facts
2 : a conclusion or opinion reached based on known facts
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
3 : the premises and conclusions of a process of inferring
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