It might be said that what separates our species from others is our tendency “to meditate on or ponder a subject.” That's the original 16th century meaning of speculate. It's a use not too distant from today's most common sense, which also involves the mind and thinking: when someone speculates about something, they think and make guesses about it, often forming ideas or theories when there are many things not known about the thing. But the origins of speculate lie not in thinking but in looking—the word comes from Latin specere, meaning “to look,” or “to look at.” We don't have to look far to find other specere descendants, and we'll point them out here with some italics: a cursory inspection reveals spectacle, spectrum, specimen, and perspective. Less conspicuous are despise, prospect, and species.
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
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
Recent Examples on the WebAfter the child support settlement, for example, Ziegler posted the coordinates of Morris’s plane on his public Telegram page and speculated about Morris’s potential travels.—Meryl Kornfield, Anchorage Daily News, 17 Sep. 2023 Paxton’s own lawyer, Dan Cogdell, has speculated that Paul, now facing federal charges, might face pressure to flip on his former friend.—Rachel Monroe, The New Yorker, 17 Sep. 2023 In her life, Taylor Swift has done things waaay greater than dating the boy on the football team, but that won't stop people from speculating about those Travis Kelce rumors.—Glamour, 16 Sep. 2023 Celebs Who Are Expecting Fans speculated Giddish was expecting this past spring after her Law & Order character, Amanda Rollins, showed up with a baby bump on an episode of Law & Order: Organized Crime.—Angela Andaloro, Peoplemag, 14 Sep. 2023 Sports media star and former NFL punter Pat McAfee speculated his friend, Rodgers, wouldn't walk away from the game.—Christopher Brito, CBS News, 14 Sep. 2023 Fans have speculated that the rapper intends to drop the LP around his birthday, Sept. 27, although Wayne has not yet confirmed anything.—Daniel Kreps, Rolling Stone, 12 Sep. 2023 Landis has been reluctant to speculate on the larger implications.—Robert Higgs, cleveland, 11 Sep. 2023 Fans had speculated about the pregnancy for months because of Seewald's absence from her social media posts, which have focused on her kids.—Kim Willis, USA TODAY, 10 Sep. 2023 See More
These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'speculate.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.
Latin speculatus, past participle of speculari to spy out, examine, from specula lookout post, from specere to look, look at — more at spy