Definition of imply in English:



  • 1Indicate the truth or existence of (something) by suggestion rather than explicit reference.

    ‘salesmen who use jargon to imply superior knowledge’
    with clause ‘the report implies that two million jobs might be lost’
    • ‘The new finding implies that our own galaxy is probably much bigger than textbooks say.’
    • ‘He said: "They were clearly implying impropriety on my part."’
    • ‘He seems to imply that domestic violence, especially against women, isn't that big a deal.’
    • ‘Both claims are often implied in arguments, but rarely made explicit.’
    • ‘Believe it or not, this was a pejorative term, implying unrealistic ambitions.’
    • ‘To say this is to imply that racism can simply be washed away, wished away or ignored.’
    • ‘When he started as Labour leader the cartoonists saw him as Bambi, referring to that smiley expression as well as implying a certain naivety.’
    • ‘He was implying that learning about something could somehow contaminate you; that knowledge could corrupt.’
    • ‘These data imply that kava extract is superior to placebo as a symptomatic treatment of anxiety.’
    • ‘The rebirth implied by the concept of the Renaissance had reference to classical learning.’
    • ‘At the same time, the original article strongly implied that the memo came from the GOP.’
    • ‘Of course, that one doesn't protest about a thing doesn't necessarily imply endorsement of it.’
    • ‘They were very clever in the way in which they implied what was going on.’
    • ‘I have never said that we will win because that rather implies you know what voters are going to do.’
    • ‘The book's very title implies acceptance of the classic distinction in philosophy between matter and form.’
    • ‘This implied that there could be more than a single correct answer to the same question.’
    • ‘He stressed he was not implying wrongdoing by anyone connected with the Minster.’
    • ‘The relative absence of women in this public sphere automatically implies their lack of power.’
    • ‘Her words were ripped out of context and her speech was widely reported as implying her support for terrorism.’
    • ‘The results also imply that statins could help treat rheumatoid arthritis and other auto-immune diseases.’
    insinuate, suggest, hint, intimate, implicate, say indirectly, indicate, give someone to understand, give someone to believe, convey the impression, signal
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    1. 1.1 (of a fact or occurrence) suggest (something) as a logical consequence.
      ‘the forecasted traffic increase implied more roads and more air pollution’
      • ‘This objection presupposes that group differences imply essential conflicts of interest.’
      • ‘Caring for and protecting the historic environment does not imply opposing change.’
      • ‘This may or may not be an error, but it does not necessarily imply a systemic failing.’
      • ‘Patronage politics implied the distribution of positions as well as benefits of various forms.’
      • ‘Sitting on a fence does not imply a lack of commitment, it simply gives one the option on which side to get off.’
      • ‘To suggest so implies a deep misunderstanding of the nature of consciousness.’
      • ‘Check the underside for signs of heavy scuffing as this could imply track use.’
      • ‘Videogames imply conflict, either between players, or a single player battling a computer.’
      • ‘Caring about the consequences of events of which you disapproved does not imply support for those events.’
      • ‘The growth of formal law necessarily implies a decline in other forms of social cohesion, or glue.’
      • ‘Amassing more data does not necessarily imply the acquisition of better information.’
      • ‘Theft from a major museum need not necessarily imply neglect or faulty security systems.’
      • ‘High levels do not necessarily imply cancer, but indicate the need for a fuller investigation.’
      • ‘Our position in no way implied political support for the Democratic Party.’
      • ‘Excuse me for being slightly cynical, but going to a film doesn't necessarily imply a dose of culture.’
      • ‘Of course, that one doesn't protest about a thing doesn't necessarily imply endorsement of it.’
      • ‘Immunogenicity does not necessarily imply opsonising antibody production.’
      • ‘Although these models imply the possibility of negative interest rates, the chance is very low with well chosen parameters.’
      • ‘It was a kind gesture but one that would be unlikely today because it might imply culpability and lead to litigation.’
      • ‘Of course, the real picture is much more complicated than this statistic implies.’
      involve, entail
      View synonyms


Imply and infer do not mean the same thing and should not be used interchangeably: see infer


Late Middle English: from Old French emplier, from Latin implicare, from in- ‘in’ + plicare ‘to fold’. The original sense was ‘entwine’; in the 16th and 17th centuries the word also meant ‘employ’. Compare with employ and implicate.