1 : to come to think or judge : consider
2 : to have an opinion : believe
Did You Know?
In the Middle Ages, demen was a fateful word. Closely related to doom, this precursor of deem meant "to act as a judge" or "to sentence, condemn, or decree." These meanings passed to deem itself, but we haven't used deem to mean "to legally condemn" since the early 17th century. Though deem is still frequently used in contexts pertaining to the law, today it means "to judge" only in a broader sense of "to decide (something specified) after inquiry and deliberation," as in "the act was deemed unlawful" or "the defendant is deemed to have agreed to the contract." Outside of the law, deem usually means simply "to consider." Some usage commentators consider deem pretentious, but its use is well established in both literary and journalistic contexts. We deem it perfectly acceptable.
The covered bridge was closed to automobile traffic for the winter because town officials deemed it a hazard to motorists.
"Being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature is something I never could have imagined or seen coming. From an early age, I've been familiar with and reading and absorbing the works of those who were deemed worthy of such a distinction: Kipling, Shaw, Thomas Mann, Pearl Buck, Albert Camus, Hemingway. These giants of literature … have always made a deep impression." — Bob Dylan, speech, 10 Dec. 2016
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