Origin of infer
usage note for infer
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.
historical usage of infer
OTHER WORDS FROM infer
WORDS THAT MAY BE CONFUSED WITH inferimply, infer (see usage note at the current entry)
Words nearby infer
INFER VS. IMPLY
What's the difference between infer and imply?
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.
How to use infer in a sentence
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.Tech-savvy fashion forecasters already know what you’ll be wearing in two years|Rachael Zisk|February 10, 2021|Popular-Science
Their goal was to see if they could infer how the flat-toothed predators crushed their prey without disturbing their dinner time.Listen to the soothing sounds of a snacking stingray|Purbita Saha|February 4, 2021|Popular-Science
To reconstruct how that happened, the researchers used bioinformatics to infer the ancestral sequences for about 550 chemokines in today’s animals.Some Proteins Change Their Folds to Perform Different Jobs|Viviane Callier|February 3, 2021|Quanta Magazine
Now, various teams are developing new ways to infer exactly how the multiverse bubbles and what happens when those bubble universes collide.Physicists Study How Universes Might Bubble Up and Collide|Charlie Wood|January 25, 2021|Quanta Magazine
Once we know the projected scoring margin, we can infer an implied win percentage.Gonzaga has a good chance to go undefeated and win the national championship|Neil Greenberg|January 15, 2021|Washington Post
And more I cannot explain/but you, from what I did not say/will infer what I do not say.Sor Juana: Mexico’s Most Erotic Poet and Its Most Dangerous Nun|Katie Baker|November 8, 2014|DAILY BEAST
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.The Bible, Douay-Rheims Version|Various
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.Beacon Lights of History, Volume I|John Lord
We are left to infer that only thirteen out of 224 parishes were in such a state as the Bishop could approve.Ireland Under the Tudors, Vol. II (of 3)|Richard Bagwell