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sur·​mise sər-ˈmīz How to pronounce surmise (audio)
: a thought or idea based on scanty evidence : conjecture


2 of 2


sur·​mise sər-ˈmīz How to pronounce surmise (audio)
surmised; surmising

transitive verb

: to form a notion of from scanty evidence : imagine, infer

Example Sentences

Noun my surmise is that the couple's “good news” is the announcement that they are going to have a baby Verb We can only surmise what happened. He must have surmised that I was not interested.
Recent Examples on the Web
One surmise is that the syndrome is caused by residual viral debris that continues to activate and/or exhaust the immune system. Melissa Healystaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 13 Dec. 2022 Instead, Rodrigues and Ohlrogge surmise, the glut of retail investors are probably not showing up for the vote. Scott Nover, Quartz, 7 Sep. 2022 More plausible, Bierson and his team surmise, is a scenario in which Pluto formed over a mere 30,000 years as rocks, just a few inches wide and drawn in towards the planet by its own gravity, pelted the nascent world’s surface. Popular Science, 29 June 2020 Scientists cite several layers of evidence to support their surmises. Los Angeles Times, 9 May 2020 To make sense of a correspondence, however complete or incomplete, is to constellate fragmentary evidence, and make surmises about what is missing (including what may not have been apparent to the letter-writers themselves). Langdon Hammer, The New York Review of Books, 25 Feb. 2020 Entertaining those that remained into Monday morning, of course, with enough crazy choreography to make any festival-goer surmise that those hand-out sandwiches may well have been dosed. Gary Graff, Billboard, 14 Aug. 2019 The wild surmise of his design sketches beguiled virtually all who saw them. Bill Wyman, New York Times, 6 Mar. 2020 His surmise that official Washington is less enamored of his border wall than are the participants at his campaign rallies is correct. James Freeman, WSJ, 29 Jan. 2020
The audience is left to surmise Calum’s fate for themselves. Seth Abramovitch, The Hollywood Reporter, 22 Feb. 2023 The shape of the crocodiles’ skulls and the arrangement of the bony armor on the crocodiles’ backs allowed the researchers to surmise that the animals represented two separate species, Crocodylus suchus and Crocodylus niloticus. Sam Walters, Discover Magazine, 27 Jan. 2023 This discovery led researchers to surmise that whoever made the inscriptions likely used a drypoint knife or stylus without any ink. Sarah Kuta, Smithsonian Magazine, 6 Dec. 2022 From there, Cabella was able to surmise when, approximately, the pipe was made. Brenna Ehrlich, Rolling Stone, 29 Oct. 2022 Tech experts surmise that Twitter’s decision to have people pay for API access is one in a long string of moneymaking attempts since the company came under Musk’s direction. Aj Willingham, CNN, 3 Feb. 2023 Kershaw, who has more wear and tear, one could surmise, from throwing 1,400 more major league innings (including postseason), but Kershaw was never obsessed with hitting triple digits on radar guns the way deGrom has done even late in his career. Tim Cowlishaw, Dallas News, 7 Dec. 2022 And yet, historians surmise Placidia would also have been exposed to, and perhaps adapted to, her captors’ way of life. Tony Perrottet, Smithsonian Magazine, 9 Jan. 2023 The scientists surmise that the size of the etchings mattered. Emilie Le Beau Lucchesi, Discover Magazine, 15 June 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'surmise.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History



Middle English, allegation, charge, from Anglo-French, from feminine of surmis, past participle of surmettre to place on, suppose, accuse, from Medieval Latin supermittere, from Late Latin, to place on, from Latin super- + mittere to let go, send


Middle English, to allege, from surmise, noun

First Known Use


1569, in the meaning defined above


1647, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of surmise was in 1569

Dictionary Entries Near surmise

Cite this Entry

“Surmise.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 verb
sur·​mise sər-ˈmīz How to pronounce surmise (audio)
surmised; surmising
: to form an idea of based on very little evidence : guess


2 of 2 noun
sur·​mise sər-ˈmīz How to pronounce surmise (audio)
: a thought or idea based on little evidence : conjecture

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