infer

verb
in·​fer | \in-ˈfər \
inferred; inferring

Definition of infer 

transitive verb

1 : to derive as a conclusion from facts or premises we see smoke and infer fire— L. A. White — compare imply

2 : guess, surmise your letter … allows me to infer that you are as well as ever— O. W. Holmes †1935

3a : to involve as a normal outcome of thought

b : to point out : indicate this doth infer the zeal I had to see him— William Shakespeare another survey … infers that two-thirds of all present computer installations are not paying for themselves— H. R. Chellman

4 : suggest, hint are you inferring I'm incompetent?

intransitive verb

: to draw inferences men … have observed, inferred, and reasoned … to all kinds of results— John Dewey

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Other Words from infer

inferable or less commonly inferrible \ in-​ˈfər-​ə-​bəl \ adjective
inferrer \ in-​ˈfər-​ər \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for infer

infer, deduce, conclude, judge, gather mean to arrive at a mental conclusion. infer implies arriving at a conclusion by reasoning from evidence; if the evidence is slight, the term comes close to surmise. from that remark, I inferred that they knew each other deduce often adds to infer the special implication of drawing a particular inference from a generalization. denied we could deduce anything important from human mortality conclude implies arriving at a necessary inference at the end of a chain of reasoning. concluded that only the accused could be guilty judge stresses a weighing of the evidence on which a conclusion is based. judge people by their actions gather suggests an intuitive forming of a conclusion from implications. gathered their desire to be alone without a word

Infer vs. Imply: Usage Guide

Sir Thomas More is the first writer known to have used both infer and imply in their approved senses in 1528 (with infer meaning "to deduce from facts" and imply meaning "to hint at"). He is also the first to have used infer in a sense close in meaning to imply (1533). Both of these uses of infer coexisted without comment until some time around the end of World War I. Since then, the "indicate" and "hint or suggest" meanings of infer have been frequently condemned as an undesirable blurring of a useful distinction. The actual blurring has been done by the commentators. The "indicate" sense of infer, descended from More's use of 1533, does not occur with a personal subject. When objections arose, they were to a use with a personal subject (which is now considered a use of the "suggest, hint" sense of infer). Since dictionaries did not recognize this use specifically, the objectors assumed that the "indicate" sense was the one they found illogical, even though it had been in respectable use for four centuries. The actual usage condemned was a spoken one never used in logical discourse. At present the condemned "suggest, hint" sense is found in print chiefly in letters to the editor and other informal prose, not in serious intellectual writing. The controversy over the "suggest, hint" sense has apparently reduced the frequency with which the "indicate" sense of infer is used.

Examples of infer in a Sentence

May I remark here that although I seem to infer that private communication is an unholy mess of grammatical barbarism,  … such is not my intent … — V. Louise Higgins, "Approaching Usage in the Classroom," English JournalMarch 1960 … I infer that Swinburne found an adequate outlet for the creative impulse in his poetry … — T. S. Eliot, The Sacred Wood, 1920 Lucy … reseated herself with an alacrity and cheerfulness which seemed to infer that she could taste no greater delight … — Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility, 1811 It's difficult to infer how these changes will affect ordinary citizens. Are you inferring that I'm wrong?
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Recent Examples on the Web

That is to say, when Facebook combines your data with data about other people to infer new things about you. Alexis C. Madrigal, The Atlantic, "What Congress Should Ask Mark Zuckerberg," 28 Mar. 2018 Across Texas, Democratic primary results usually break down in predictable ways according to what can be inferred about a candidate’s ethnicity from their surname. The Economist, "Demography is not destinyBuilding a multiracial coalition is more difficult than it seems," 12 July 2018 Using artificial intelligence, Watson Analytics looks at an employee’s experiences and projects to infer the potential skills and qualities each person might have to serve IBM in the future. Rebecca Greenfield, latimes.com, "Your raise is now based on next year's performance," 9 July 2018 Much of what is inferred on how toxoplasmosis is killing Hawai`i’s state mammal comes from scientific discoveries made with Southern sea otters along coastal California—primarily that freshwater runoff is carrying the parasite to the sea. Kim Steutermann Rogers, Smithsonian, "How the Tiniest of Parasites is Taking Down the Mightiest of Monk Seals," 9 July 2018 Giuliani didn't necessarily present the entire sum as being a reimbursement — even as plenty of people inferred that. Aaron Blake, Washington Post, "Trump’s new Stormy Daniels disclosure reveals yet another Rudy Giuliani contradiction," 16 May 2018 Was uranium detected or inferred in that collision's debris? Scientific American, "Readers Respond to the March 2018 Issue," 13 Mar. 2018 There is much less actual Scrabble playing in this book — which is told in alternating chapters, over nearly a week — than the reader might infer from looking at the book’s cover, with its oversize letter tiles floating on water like life rafts. New York Times, "In a Newbery Medalist’s Latest Novel, Friends Find Solace in Words," 24 May 2018 When combined with more conventional geophysical methods, these images could help volcanologists infer which parts would blow up first during an eruption, says D’Alessandro. Elizabeth Gibney, Scientific American, "Muons: The Little-known Particles Helping to Probe the Impenetrable," 28 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'infer.' 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 infer

1528, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for infer

Middle French or Latin; Middle French inferer, from Latin inferre, literally, to carry or bring into, from in- + ferre to carry — more at bear

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Statistics for infer

Last Updated

3 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for infer

The first known use of infer was in 1528

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More Definitions for infer

infer

verb

English Language Learners Definition of infer

: to form (an opinion) from evidence : to reach (a conclusion) based on known facts

: to hint or suggest (something)

infer

verb
in·​fer | \in-ˈfər \
inferred; inferring

Kids Definition of infer

1 : to arrive at as a conclusion based on known facts I inferred he was sick from his cough.

2 : guess entry 1 sense 1 From the look on her face, I inferred she was lying.

3 : hint entry 2, suggest Are you inferring I'm guilty?

infer

verb
in·​fer | \in-ˈfər \
inferred; inferring

Legal Definition of infer 

transitive verb

: to derive as a conclusion from facts or premises could infer acceptance of the offer from the offeree's response

intransitive verb

: to draw inferences

Other Words from infer

inferable also inferrible \ in-​ˈfər-​ə-​bəl \ adjective

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More from Merriam-Webster on infer

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for infer

Spanish Central: Translation of infer

Nglish: Translation of infer for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of infer for Arabic Speakers

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