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infer

[ in-fur ]
/ 瑟n藞f蓽r /
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See synonyms for: infer / inferred / inferring / infers on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object), in路ferred, in路fer路ring.
to derive by reasoning; conclude or judge from premises or evidence: They inferred his displeasure from his cool tone of voice.
(of facts, circumstances, statements, etc.) to indicate or involve as a conclusion; lead to.
to guess; speculate; surmise.
to hint; imply; suggest.
verb (used without object), in路ferred, in路fer路ring.
to draw a conclusion, as by reasoning.
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Which of the following words describes 鈥渟ky blue鈥?
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Origin of infer

First recorded in 1520鈥30; from Latin inferre, equivalent to in- + ferre 鈥渢o bring, carry, bear鈥; see origin at in-2, bear1

usage note for infer

Infer has been used to mean 鈥渢o hint or suggest鈥 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 鈥渢o suggest鈥 usually produces no ambiguity, the distinction too has a long history and is widely observed by many speakers and writers.

historical usage of infer

The English verb infer has always been used in logic to mean 鈥渢o conclude by reasoning or from evidence.鈥 It comes from the Latin verb inferre 鈥渢o carry in, enter, introduce, inflict,鈥 composed of the prefix in- 鈥渋n, into鈥 and ferre 鈥渢o carry, bear.鈥 Inferre meaning 鈥渢o conclude, draw an inference, infer鈥 is very rare in Latin, occurring only in the writings of Cicero (106鈥43 b.c.), Roman statesman and man of letters, and the great, commonsensical Roman rhetorician Quintilian (who lived about a.d. 35鈥95).

OTHER WORDS FROM infer

WORDS THAT MAY BE CONFUSED WITH infer

imply, infer (see usage note at the current entry)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, 漏 Random House, Inc. 2021

INFER VS. IMPLY

What's the difference between聽infer and聽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鈥檙e 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鈥檛 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鈥攖o hint or suggest. Even though this can be confusing, the meaning of infer can usually be easily inferred from the context in which it鈥檚 used.

Here鈥檚 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聽infer vs.聽imply!

Should infer or imply be used in the following sentence?

I ___ from your annoyed tone that you weren鈥檛 happy with your birthday cake.

How to use infer in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for infer

infer
/ (瑟n藞f蓽藧) /

verb -fers, -ferring or -ferred (when tr, may take a clause as object)
to conclude (a state of affairs, supposition, etc) by reasoning from evidence; deduce
(tr) to have or lead to as a necessary or logical consequence; indicate
(tr) to hint or imply

Derived forms of infer

inferable, inferible, inferrable or inferrible, adjectiveinferably, adverbinferrer, noun

Word Origin for infer

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

usage for infer

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?
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition 漏 William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 漏 HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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