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[ges] /gɛs/
verb (used with object)
to arrive at or commit oneself to an opinion about (something) without having sufficient evidence to support the opinion fully:
to guess a person's weight.
to estimate or conjecture about correctly:
to guess what a word means.
to think, believe, or suppose:
I guess I can get there in time.
verb (used without object)
to form an estimate or conjecture (often followed by at or about):
We guessed at the weight of the package.
to estimate or conjecture correctly.
an opinion that one reaches or to which one commits oneself on the basis of probability alone or in the absence of any evidence whatever.
the act of forming such an opinion:
to take a guess at someone's weight.
by guess and by gosh, Northern U.S. using a combination of guesswork and reliance on luck; hit or miss.
Also, by guess and by golly.
Origin of guess
1300-50; (v.) Middle English gessen, perhaps < Scandinavian; compare Swedish, Danish, Norwegian gissa, Middle Low German gissen, Middle Dutch gessen, Old Norse geta; (noun) Middle English gesse, derivative of the v. See get
Related forms
guessable, adjective
guesser, noun
guessingly, adverb
preguess, noun, verb
unguessable, adjective
unguessed, adjective
Can be confused
guessed, guest.
1. hazard. 1, 2, 4. Guess, guess at, conjecture, surmise imply attempting to form an opinion as to the probable. To guess is to risk an opinion regarding something one does not know about, or, wholly or partly by chance, to arrive at the correct answer to a question: to guess the outcome of a game. Guess at implies more haphazard or random guessing: to guess at the solution of a crime. To conjecture is to make inferences in the absence of sufficient evidence to establish certainty: to conjecture the circumstances of the crime. Surmise implies making an intuitive conjecture that may or may not be correct: to surmise the motives that led to it. 3. fancy, imagine. 6. supposition.
3. know. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for guess
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The consonants were reproduced but the reader was forced to guess at the vowels.

    Ancient Man Hendrik Willem van Loon
  • You may guess what your father's first question on his return will be.

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9) Samuel Richardson
  • There you will guess how the greatest part of the hour was employed.

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9) Samuel Richardson
  • Internecine destruction probably has a meaning we can only guess at.

  • I guess so,' says he, and then he turned and went off to bed.

    Ester Ried Yet Speaking Isabella Alden
British Dictionary definitions for guess


verb (when transitive, may take a clause as object)
when intr, often foll by at or about. to form or express an uncertain estimate or conclusion (about something), based on insufficient information: guess what we're having for dinner
to arrive at a correct estimate of (something) by guessing: he guessed my age
(informal, mainly US & Canadian) to believe, think, or suppose (something): I guess I'll go now
keep a person guessing, to let a person remain in a state of uncertainty
an estimate or conclusion arrived at by guessing: a bad guess
the act of guessing
anyone's guess, something difficult to predict
Derived Forms
guessable, adjective
guesser, noun
guessingly, adverb
Word Origin
C13: probably of Scandinavian origin; compare Old Swedish gissa, Old Danish gitse, Middle Dutch gissen; see get
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for guess

c.1300, gessen "to estimate, appraise," originally "take aim," probably from Scandinavian (cf. Middle Danish gitse, getze "to guess," Old Norse geta "guess, get"), possibly influenced by Middle Dutch gessen, Middle Low German gissen "to guess," all from Proto-Germanic *getiskanan "to get" (see get). Sense evolution is from "to get," to "to take aim at," to "to estimate." Meaning "to hit upon the right answer" is from 1540s. U.S. sense of "calculate, recon" is true to the oldest English meaning. Spelling with gu- is late 16c., sometimes attributed to Caxton and his early experience as a printer in Bruges. Related: Guessed; guessing. Guessing game attested from 1650s.


c.1300, from guess (v.). Verbal shrug phrase your guess is as good as mine attested from 1902.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with guess
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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