[ in-duhk-tiv ]
/ ɪnˈdʌk tɪv /
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of, relating to, or involving electrical induction or magnetic induction.
operating by induction: an inductive machine.
of, relating to, or employing logical induction: inductive reasoning.
Embryology. eliciting the action of an embryonic inducer.
serving to induce; leading or influencing (usually followed by to).
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“Was” is used for the indicative past tense of “to be,” and “were” is only used for the subjunctive past tense.

Origin of inductive

From the Late Latin word inductīvus, dating back to 1600–10. See induct, -ive

words often confused with inductive

3. See deductive.


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does inductive mean?

Inductive is most often used to describe a kind of reasoning or logic where general theories are formed from specific examples or incidents.

Inductive is an adjective form of the verb induct, meaning to bring about or bring in.

Simply put, inductive reasoning involves using specific observations, evidence, or patterns to make a broad conclusion. You first collect evidence or make observations and then form an answer or theory based on what you have found. Your answer can be likely, or probable, but you can’t know if it’s true without further observations. For example, after witnessing something happen at the same time every day for a year, you could use inductive reasoning to conclude that it is very likely that it will happen at the same time tomorrow.

However, inductive reasoning can often lead to wrong or illogical conclusions, even if all of the evidence is true. For example, if all the red-haired people you’ve ever met are left-handed, you might incorrectly use inductive reasoning to conclude that all red-haired people are left-handed.

Inductive reasoning is the opposite of deductive reasoning, which uses general, true information to reach specific conclusions: Dogs are mammals. Pluto is a dog. Pluto is a mammal. 

Inductive is also used to describe the scientific processes of electric and magnetic induction or things that function based on them.

Inductive is also used as a synonym for the word introductory.

Example: When police use fingerprints as evidence of a crime, they are using inductive reasoning to conclude who the likely criminal is.

Where does inductive come from?

The first records of inductive come from the early 1600s. It comes from the Late Latin word inductīvus, which is derived from the Latin verb indūcere, meaning “to introduce” or “to lead in.” The -ive ending indicates a tendency or connection (as with active and destructive).

In science and life, people often use both inductive and deductive reasoning to answer questions about the world around them. Formal inductive reasoning is complex, and a theory reached inductively should be tested to see if it is correct or makes sense. Police detectives, for example, often make theories about suspects based on inductive reasoning using crime scene evidence or witness interviews.

Faulty inductive logic can result in stereotypes. People can wrongly conclude that their observations of one person or a small group of people are true about every person of that group.

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What are some other forms related to inductive?

  • inductively (adverb)
  • inductiveness (noun)
  • anti-inductive (adjective)
  • anti-inductively (adverb)

What are some synonyms for inductive?

What are some words that share a root or word element with inductive

What are some words that often get used in discussing inductive?

What are some words inductive may be commonly confused with?

How is inductive used in real life?

Inductive is most often used in the context of reasoning or logic.



Try using inductive!

Is inductive used correctly in the following sentence?

Using inductive reasoning, I first came up with a general hypothesis and then collected evidence to test it.

How to use inductive in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for inductive

/ (ɪnˈdʌktɪv) /

relating to, involving, or operated by electrical or magnetic inductionan inductive reactance
logic maths of, relating to, or using inductioninductive reasoning
serving to induce or cause
a rare word for introductory
biology producing a reaction within an organism, esp induction in embryonic tissue

Derived forms of inductive

inductively, adverbinductiveness, noun
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