View synonyms for infer


[ in-fur ]

verb (used with object)

, in·ferred, in·fer·ring.
  1. to derive by reasoning; conclude or judge from premises or evidence:

    They inferred his displeasure from his cool tone of voice.

    Synonyms: suppose, conjecture, imagine, reason, deduce

  2. (of facts, circumstances, statements, etc.) to indicate or involve as a conclusion; lead to.
  3. to guess; speculate; surmise.
  4. to hint; imply; suggest.

verb (used without object)

, in·ferred, in·fer·ring.
  1. to draw a conclusion, as by reasoning.


/ ɪnˈfɜː /


  1. to conclude (a state of affairs, supposition, etc) by reasoning from evidence; deduce
  2. tr to have or lead to as a necessary or logical consequence; indicate
  3. tr to hint or imply

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Usage Note

Infer has been used to mean “to hint or suggest” since the 16th century by speakers and writers of unquestioned ability and eminence: The next speaker criticized the proposal, inferring that it was made solely to embarrass the government. Despite its long history, many usage guides condemn the use, maintaining that the proper word for the intended sense is imply and that to use infer is to lose a valuable distinction between the two words. Although the claimed distinction has probably existed chiefly in the pronouncements of usage guides, and although the use of infer to mean “to suggest” usually produces no ambiguity, the distinction too has a long history and is widely observed by many speakers and writers.

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The use of infer to mean imply is becoming more and more common in both speech and writing. There is nevertheless a useful distinction between the two which many people would be in favour of maintaining. To infer means `to deduce', and is used in the construction to infer something from something : I inferred from what she said that she had not been well . To imply (sense 1) means `to suggest, to insinuate' and is normally followed by a clause: are you implying that I was responsible for the mistake?

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Derived Forms

  • inˈferably, adverb
  • inˈferable, adjective
  • inˈferrer, noun

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Other Words From

  • in·fer·a·ble in·fer·ra·ble adjective
  • in·fer·a·bly adverb
  • in·fer·rer noun
  • mis·in·fer verb misinferred misinferring
  • non·in·fer·a·ble adjective
  • non·in·fer·a·bly adverb
  • sub·in·fer verb subinferred subinferring
  • un·in·fer·a·ble adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of infer1

First recorded in 1520–30; from Latin inferre, equivalent to in- + ferre “to bring, carry, bear”; in- 2, bear 1

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Word History and Origins

Origin of infer1

C16: from Latin inferre to bring into, from ferre to bear, carry

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Example Sentences

Such big-picture cultural observations are a jumping-off point to infer what colors, silhouettes, and fabrics will be the macro trends in fashion up to two years in advance.

Their goal was to see if they could infer how the flat-toothed predators crushed their prey without disturbing their dinner time.

To reconstruct how that happened, the researchers used bioinformatics to infer the ancestral sequences for about 550 chemokines in today’s animals.

Now, various teams are developing new ways to infer exactly how the multiverse bubbles and what happens when those bubble universes collide.

Once we know the projected scoring margin, we can infer an implied win percentage.

And more I cannot explain/but you, from what I did not say/will infer what I do not say.

Therefore, we can at least infer that the people of Saint-Jean-des-Vignes did not have a rigorous eugenics program like Sparta.

I would tend to infer that I guess he is, however reluctantly.

Some people chose to infer that we believed humans to be feeble-minded, which we never did.

I infer from this that Dan Kois is not afflicted with lower back trouble.

We should infer also from some of the early stage plays, that the "players" used the weed even when acting their parts.

From this place some commentators infer that this king became a true convert, and dying not long after, was probably saved.

We must not, however, infer that there was a large Egyptian element in the Canaanitish Pantheon.

We infer from his writings that his age was degenerate and corrupt, but, as we have already said, his reproofs were gentle.

We are left to infer that only thirteen out of 224 parishes were in such a state as the Bishop could approve.


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Infer vs. Imply

What's the difference between infer and imply?

Infer most commonly means to guess or use reasoning to come to a conclusion based on what has been suggested. To imply is to indicate or suggest something without actually stating it.

Infer and imply can be confused because they’re often used at opposite ends of the same situation. When someone implies something (suggests it without saying it explicitly), you have to infer their meaning (conclude what it is based on the hints that have been given).

For example, you might infer that your friend wants cake for their birthday because they keep talking about how much they like cake and reminding you that their birthday is coming up. Your friend didn’t actually ask for cake, but they implied that they want it by giving you hints. You used these hints to infer that they want cake.

Of course, there are situations in which you might infer something when nothing was implied or nothing was intended to be implied.

Probably due to the association between the two words, infer is sometimes used to mean the same thing as imply—to hint or suggest. Even though this can be confusing, the meaning of infer can usually be easily inferred from the context in which it’s used.

Here’s an example of infer and imply used correctly in a sentence.

Example: Even though he only implied that he may be in trouble, we correctly inferred that he was.

Want to learn more? Read the full breakdown of the difference between infer and imply.

Quiz yourself on infer vs. imply!

Should infer or imply be used in the following sentence?

I ___ from your annoyed tone that you weren’t happy with your birthday cake.