speculate

verb
spec·​u·​late | \ˈspe-kyə-ˌlāt \
speculated; speculating

Definition of speculate 

intransitive verb

1a : to meditate on or ponder a subject : reflect

b : to review something idly or casually and often inconclusively

2 : to assume a business risk in hope of gain especially : to buy or sell in expectation of profiting from market fluctuations

transitive verb

1 : to take to be true on the basis of insufficient evidence : theorize

2 : to be curious or doubtful about : wonder speculates whether it will rain all vacation

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Other Words from speculate

speculator \ ˈspe-​kyə-​ˌlā-​tər \ noun

Synonyms for speculate

Synonyms

assume, conjecture, daresay, guess, imagine, presume, suppose, surmise, suspect, suspicion [chiefly dialect]

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Choose the Right Synonym for speculate

think, cogitate, reflect, reason, speculate, deliberate mean to use one's powers of conception, judgment, or inference. think is general and may apply to any mental activity, but used alone often suggests attainment of clear ideas or conclusions. teaches students how to think cogitate implies deep or intent thinking. cogitated on the mysteries of nature reflect suggests unhurried consideration of something recalled to the mind. reflecting on fifty years of married life reason stresses consecutive logical thinking. able to reason brilliantly in debate speculate implies reasoning about things theoretical or problematic. speculated on the fate of the lost explorers deliberate suggests slow or careful reasoning before forming an opinion or reaching a conclusion or decision. the jury deliberated for five hours

Did You Know?

Speculate was adopted into English in the late 16th century from Latin speculatus, the past participle of the verb speculari, which means "to spy out" or "to examine." Speculari, in turn, derives from specula, meaning "lookout post," and ultimately from the Latin verb specere, "to look (at)." Other conspicuous descendants of specere are inspect and suspect. Some less obvious descendants are the words despise, species, specimen, and, as you may have speculated, conspicuous.

Examples of speculate in a Sentence

She could only speculate about her friend's motives. He speculated as to whether she would come. We don't know what happened—we can only speculate. speculating on the stock market
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Recent Examples on the Web

The fire didn't burn around the ranch, as some have speculated. Anne Ryman, azcentral, "5 years later: 5 new things about fire that killed Granite Mountain Hotshots firefighters," 24 June 2018 Shaw noted that some have speculated that Lewis, as head of the state education department, would divert state funds to charter schools. Mandy Mclaren, The Courier-Journal, "JCPS takeover: five things you missed from Wayne Lewis' KET interview," 8 June 2018 The briefings came after House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes demanded more information about the source -- a push that has prompted Trump to publicly speculate whether the FBI infiltrated his campaign. Ashley Killough And Manu Raju, CNN, "Ryan says he agrees with Gowdy that FBI acted appropriately," 6 June 2018 Obviously, the Cavs would love for James to re-sign there rather than depart for another team (the Philadelphia 76ers, Houston Rockets and Lakers are often speculated as possible destinations). Rick Bonnell, charlotteobserver, "NBA draft chatter: Hornets' Michael Porter decision? Kemba to Cavs? Kaminsky's future?," 1 June 2018 Some commentators have speculated that, like Santos, Duque might break with Uribe once in office, and govern like the centrist the hardliners in his own party have long suspected him to be. Steven Cohen, The New Republic, "Why Colombia Keeps Electing Presidents Tied to Murderers," 18 June 2018 Astronomers have speculated for a few years that a ninth planet may be orbiting the sun at a great distance, and have spent the past few years searching for it. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "A Newly Discovered Solar System Object Hints at Hidden Planet Nine," 18 May 2018 Some scientists speculate that seeding such sulfur aerosols — absent fiery eruptions — could someday be a Hail Mary to counteract climate change. Nathaniel Scharping, Discover Magazine, "Should We Cool Earth?," 18 May 2018 Fans have speculated since the Season 4 premiere that Madison Clark (Kim Dickens) might be dead in the series’ present-day timeline, as the season flits back and forth between flashbacks and reality. Laura Bradley, HWD, "Fear the Walking Dead: What’s Next After This Devastating Death?," 29 Apr. 2018

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

1599, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for speculate

Latin speculatus, past participle of speculari to spy out, examine, from specula lookout post, from specere to look, look at — more at spy

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Statistics for speculate

Last Updated

7 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for speculate

The first known use of speculate was in 1599

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More Definitions for speculate

speculator

noun

Financial Definition of speculator

What It Is

A speculator is a person or an entity that trades securities essentially as bets that the price will go up or down, and as such, typically has an above-average risk tolerance.

How It Works

Although one can argue that all investment is speculation, an acknowledged speculator will buy or sell a security solely to reap a typically short-term profit from the price movement of that security. This motivation differs significantly from those of more traditional investors or hedgers.

For example, consider the purchase of corn futures. A hedger may purchase these securities in order to offset any negative movements in the price of corn and thus stabilize his or her portfolio (these people might be corn growers or cereal companies, for instance). A speculator, however, may buy the very same security simply because he or she has reason to believe the position will increase in value. He or she simply bets on which way the market is going to go.

Why It Matters

Speculation can sometimes drive securities prices away from their intrinsic value, either becoming overpriced during a buying frenzy or becoming underpriced during a huge sell-off. Although speculators sometimes get a bad rap in the press for this reason, they are a crucial lubricant to the markets, particularly the commodities markets. Although they don't want to physically possess any of the commodities they're trading (that is, they don't really want a truckload of rice delivered to their door), their trading activity brings liquidity to the market, which in turn provides stability and efficiency to those markets.

It is important to note, however, that speculators are generally bigger risk takers than other investors. They are more likely than other investors to use leverage, and as such can suffer huge losses alongside huge gains.

Source: Investing Answers

speculate

verb

English Language Learners Definition of speculate

: to think about something and make guesses about it : to form ideas or theories about something usually when there are many things not known about it

: to invest money in ways that could produce a large profit but that also involve a lot of risk

speculate

verb
spec·​u·​late | \ˈspe-kyə-ˌlāt \
speculated; speculating

Kids Definition of speculate

1 : to think or wonder about something

2 : to come up with ideas or theories about something

3 : to engage in a risky but possibly very profitable business deal

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speculate

verb
spec·​u·​late | \ˈspe-kyə-ˌlāt \
speculated; speculating

Legal Definition of speculate 

intransitive verb

1 : to theorize on the basis of insufficient evidence

Note: A jury is not permitted to speculate on a matter about which insufficient evidence has been presented in reaching its verdict.

2 : to assume a business risk in hope of gain especially : to buy or sell in expectation of profiting from market fluctuations

transitive verb

: to take to be true on the basis of insufficient evidence

Other Words from speculate

speculator \ -​ˌlā-​tər \ noun

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Comments on speculate

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