speculate

verb
spec·​u·​late | \ ˈspe-kyə-ˌlāt How to pronounce speculate (audio) \
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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from speculate

speculator \ ˈspe-​kyə-​ˌlā-​tər How to pronounce speculator (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for speculate

Synonyms

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

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Max Mumby/IndigoGetty Images As speculated in HELLO! Katherine J. Igoe, Marie Claire, "Prince George and Princess Charlotte Might Join Kate for Trooping the Colour This Year," 30 May 2019 And if that wasn't exciting enough, a recent Instagram post also has fans speculating about the return of another character: Vivian Darkbloom. Gianluca Russo, Teen Vogue, "Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists," 27 May 2019 The vintage prom queen shoulder ruffles and massive bow were a departure—even for a star who has worn everything—and had fans speculating about her sixth album and its corresponding style message. Vogue, "This Week, Stars Went for Bold Gestures and Bright Colors," 25 Mar. 2019 Fans speculated whether the baby had already arrived or if Harry's travels would coincide with the birth. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Prince Harry Still Reportedly Plans to Visit the Netherlands Days After the Royal Baby's Birth," 6 May 2019 Following a May 2018 social media post that had Bella sporting a large ring, some fans speculated that the two had gotten engaged. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Bella Thorne and Mod Sun Have Broken Up," 16 Apr. 2019 In 2015, however, South Korea’s spy agency speculated that he was briefly banished to a rural collective farm for reeducation. Hyung-jin Kim, The Seattle Times, "North Korea bolsters diplomatic lineup amid stalled US talks," 12 Apr. 2019 Analysts speculated about the departure of Mr. Carter in September, when T-Mobile said Sunit Patel would join the company to lead its expected integration with Sprint. Ezequiel Minaya, WSJ, "T-Mobile Spells Out CFO Exit Plan," 29 Mar. 2019 Some speculated that the moment where Tess is hiding her sexuality from Rebecca is actually foreshadowing Rebecca's big secret, her debilitating illness. Amanda Garrity, Good Housekeeping, "The Craziest Season 3 'This Is Us' Fan Theories on the Internet," 19 Mar. 2019

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about speculate

Statistics for speculate

Last Updated

6 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for speculate

The first known use of speculate was in 1599

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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 How to pronounce speculate (audio) \
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

Keep scrolling for more

speculate

verb
spec·​u·​late | \ ˈspe-kyə-ˌlāt How to pronounce speculate (audio) \
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 How to pronounce speculator (audio) \ noun

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on speculate

What made you want to look up speculate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

showing great care, attention, and effort

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Finance Words Quiz

  • a-piggy-bank
  • The etymology of mortgage is related most closely to which two words?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!