speculate

play
verb spec·u·late \ˈspe-kyə-ˌlāt\
Updated on: 26 Jul 2017

Definition of speculate

speculated

;

speculating

  1. intransitive verb
  2. 1a :  to meditate on or ponder a subject :  reflectb :  to review something idly or casually and often inconclusively

  3. 2 :  to assume a business risk in hope of gain; especially :  to buy or sell in expectation of profiting from market fluctuations

  4. transitive verb
  5. 1 :  to take to be true on the basis of insufficient evidence :  theorize

  6. 2 :  to be curious or doubtful about :  wonder speculates whether it will rain all vacation

speculator

play \ˈspe-kyə-ˌlā-tər\ noun

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Examples of speculate in a Sentence

  1. She could only speculate about her friend's motives.

  2. He speculated as to whether she would come.

  3. We don't know what happened—we can only speculate.

  4. speculating on the stock market

Recent Examples of speculate from the Web

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.

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.

Origin and Etymology of speculate

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

Synonym Discussion of 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

Financial Definition of SPECULATE

speculate

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.


SPECULATE Defined for English Language Learners

speculate

play
verb

Definition of speculate for English Language Learners

  • : 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 Defined for Kids

speculate

play
verb spec·u·late \ˈspe-kyə-ˌlāt\

Definition of speculate for Students

speculated

;

speculating

  1. 1 :  to think or wonder about something

  2. 2 :  to come up with ideas or theories about something

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


Law Dictionary

speculate

play
verb spec·u·late \ˈspe-kyə-ˌlāt\

Legal Definition of speculate

speculated

speculating

  1. intransitive verb
  2. 1 :  to theorize on the basis of insufficient evidence Editor's note: A jury is not permitted to speculate on a matter about which insufficient evidence has been presented in reaching its verdict.

  3. 2 :  to assume a business risk in hope of gain; especially :  to buy or sell in expectation of profiting from market fluctuations

  4. transitive verb
  5. :  to take to be true on the basis of insufficient evidence

speculator

\-ˌlā-tər\ play noun


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