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[in-fur] /ɪnˈfɜr/
verb (used with object), inferred, inferring.
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), inferred, inferring.
to draw a conclusion, as by reasoning.
Origin of infer
1520-30; < Latin inferre, equivalent to in- in-2 + ferre to bring, carry, bear1
Related forms
inferable, inferible, inferrible, adjective
inferably, adverb
inferrer, noun
misinfer, verb, misinferred, misinferring.
noninferable, adjective
noninferably, adverb
preinfer, verb (used with object), preinferred, preinferring.
quasi-inferred, adjective
reinfer, verb (used with object), reinferred, reinferring.
subinfer, verb, subinferred, subinferring.
superinfer, verb (used with object), superinferred, superinferring.
uninferable, adjective
uninferably, adverb
uninferred, adjective
uninferrible, adjective
uninferribly, adverb
Can be confused
imply, infer (see usage note at the current entry)
1. deduce, reason, guess.
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 20th-century 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. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for infer
  • They are a valuable tool in studying climate, but also can be used to infer connections between climate and human conditions.
  • Scientists can infer the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere from the amount of organics in the sediment.
  • The new, more accurate estimate can be used to infer the proportion of all threatened species.
  • Paleontologists infer that whales evolved from land-dwelling animals, for instance.
  • From this one can infer that discrimination based on what language one speaks is against human rights.
  • They try to infer the best of our current knowledge.
  • From a detail of political etiquette, he could infer the incipient mentality of the totalitarian.
  • If it happens in the other direction, then you can infer that you were not the one who caused it.
  • If you are willing to infer a causal connection, the implication is that you're doomed to low wages without an education.
  • However, it is difficult to infer anything about a course based on whether its provider was accredited.
British Dictionary definitions for infer


verb (when transitive, may take a clause as object) -fers, -ferring, -ferred
to conclude (a state of affairs, supposition, etc) by reasoning from evidence; deduce
(transitive) to have or lead to as a necessary or logical consequence; indicate
(transitive) to hint or imply
Derived Forms
inferable, inferible, inferrable, inferrible, adjective
inferably, adverb
inferrer, noun
Usage note
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?
Word Origin
C16: from Latin inferre to bring into, from ferre to bear, carry
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 infer

1520s, from Latin inferre "bring into, carry in; deduce, infer, conclude, draw an inference; bring against," from in- "in" (see in- (2)) + ferre "carry, bear," from PIE *bher- (1) "to bear, to carry, to take" (cf. Sanskrit bharati "carries;" Avestan baraiti "carries;" Old Persian barantiy "they carry;" Armenian berem "I carry;" Greek pherein "to carry;" Old Irish beru/berim "I catch, I bring forth;" Gothic bairan "to carry;" Old English and Old High German beran, Old Norse bera "barrow;" Old Church Slavonic birati "to take;" Russian brat' "to take," bremya "a burden"). Sense of "draw a conclusion" is first attested 1520s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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