\ ˈdēm How to pronounce deem (audio) \
deemed; deeming; deems

Definition of deem

transitive verb

: to come to think or judge : consider deemed it wise to go slow those whom she deemed worthy a movie deemed appropriate for all ages

intransitive verb

: to have an opinion : believe

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Synonyms for deem


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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 "legally condemn" since the early 17th century. Though "deem" is still frequently used in law contexts, today it means "judge" only in a broader sense of "to decide (something specified) regarding," 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.

Examples of deem in a Sentence

The principal will take whatever action she deems appropriate in this case. I deem it fitting that we mark this solemn occasion with a day of prayer and thanksgiving.
Recent Examples on the Web Another leader in the ESG movement, École des Hautes Études Commerciales du Nord (EDHEC), claims that some portfolios that deem themselves devoted to climate change direct only 12 percent of their allocations to this worthy cause. Andy Martin, National Review, 10 Sep. 2021 Hoodies and pullovers will always have their place, especially when customers deem them to be super comfortable. Lauren Rearick,, 9 Sep. 2021 There were no obvious signs of death, which led the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office to initially close the area and deem it a hazardous materials scene. Matthias Gafni, San Francisco Chronicle, 31 Aug. 2021 The louder call for work-life balance and flexibility is a more recent phenomenon, previously stifled by the fear from working mothers of having employers deem them less capable or less committed than their male counterparts. Sarah Travers, Forbes, 18 June 2021 Many basketball experts deem him the best shooter in NBA history. Stephanie Cain, Fortune, 25 Sep. 2021 Anyone looking to get their mind blown, and then blown again, will deem Meow Wolf a thrilling fun house. New York Times, 24 Sep. 2021 Perhaps one day Johnson will deem it politically expedient to introduce greater mitigation against the downsides of Brexit. Luke Mcgee, CNN, 12 Sep. 2021 Bishop promised to make John a serum that would force the Fountain of Imperium — which was revealed to be an alien charged with protecting Earth from invasive alien species — deem him worthy of drinking from it. Chancellor Agard,, 30 Aug. 2021

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

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First Known Use of deem

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for deem

Middle English demen, from Old English dēman; akin to Old High German tuomen to judge, Old English dōm doom

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The first known use of deem was before the 12th century

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Last Updated

14 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Deem.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Oct. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of deem

: to think of (someone or something) in a particular way


\ ˈdēm How to pronounce deem (audio) \
deemed; deeming

Kids Definition of deem

: to have as an opinion She deemed it wise to wait.

More from Merriam-Webster on deem

Nglish: Translation of deem for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of deem for Arabic Speakers


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