Definition of infer in English:



  • Deduce or conclude (something) from evidence and reasoning rather than from explicit statements.

    with clause ‘from these facts we can infer that crime has been increasing’
    • ‘Nor is it open to the court to infer dishonesty from facts which have been pleaded but are consistent with honesty.’
    • ‘In such a case… it may be possible to infer their common intention from their conduct.’
    • ‘There are in fact two types of error that can be made when inferring statistical significance.’
    • ‘Smuggling is inferred from a few of the tails allegedly being undersized and illegal.’
    • ‘It is, apparently, now possible to infer the colour of a person's skin from their typing.’
    • ‘This prejudice is inferred, and no evidence is required to enable a judge to consider it.’
    • ‘I shall now suggest five reasons for inferring God as their source or ground.’
    • ‘Berndt infers a pull-apart basin as the reason for this local depression, because of the location between two major strike-slip faults.’
    • ‘Rather, Matt is inferring it from all the talk of Social Security's problems starting in 2018.’
    • ‘These facts are used to infer a fluvial environment of deposition for the Upper Flora Sandstone.’
    • ‘In other words, it must be possible to infer a common intention to be bound by a contract which has legal effect.’
    • ‘We also analyze the evidence for the presence of a disease mutation after inferring the ancestry of a locus.’
    • ‘While Greenberg qualifies her conclusions, she also overreaches in inferring a political sea change.’
    • ‘A reasonable man would not infer guilt from the fact of a police inquiry.’
    • ‘By carefully measuring the spin of the outer electron, he says, it will be possible to infer the spin of the nucleus.’
    • ‘The street was not identified, although it is possible to infer the number of the house from the photograph.’
    • ‘The search engine uses technology that infers the topic of the page and then delivers relevant text ads from a database containing thousands of advertisers.’
    • ‘In the first place it is possible to infer a certain topicality in the discourse.’
    • ‘Other circumstances in addition thereto must exist to allow the trier of fact to infer malice.’
    • ‘Their Honours go on in the next paragraph to say it is really a no evidence case and on the next page to infer error of law.’
    deduce, reason, work out, conclude, come to the conclusion, draw the inference, conjecture, surmise, theorize, hypothesize
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There is a distinction in meaning between infer and imply. In the sentence the speaker implied that the General had been a traitor, implied means that the speaker subtly suggested that this man was a traitor (though nothing so explicit was actually stated). However, in we inferred from his words that the General had been a traitor, inferred means that something in the speaker's words enabled the listeners to deduce that the man was a traitor. The two words infer and imply can describe the same event, but from different angles. Use of infer to mean imply, as in are you inferring that I'm a liar? (instead of are you implying that I'm a liar?), is an extremely common error


Late 15th century (in the sense ‘bring about, inflict’): from Latin inferre ‘bring in, bring about’ (in medieval Latin ‘deduce’), from in- ‘into’ + ferre ‘bring’.