Definition of infer in English:



[with object]
  • 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’
    • ‘Rather, Matt is inferring it from all the talk of Social Security's problems starting in 2018.’
    • ‘By carefully measuring the spin of the outer electron, he says, it will be possible to infer the spin of the nucleus.’
    • ‘I shall now suggest five reasons for inferring God as their source or ground.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘These facts are used to infer a fluvial environment of deposition for the Upper Flora Sandstone.’
    • ‘Other circumstances in addition thereto must exist to allow the trier of fact to infer malice.’
    • ‘While Greenberg qualifies her conclusions, she also overreaches in inferring a political sea change.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Smuggling is inferred from a few of the tails allegedly being undersized and illegal.’
    • ‘We also analyze the evidence for the presence of a disease mutation after inferring the ancestry of a locus.’
    • ‘Nor is it open to the court to infer dishonesty from facts which have been pleaded but are consistent with honesty.’
    • ‘In other words, it must be possible to infer a common intention to be bound by a contract which has legal effect.’
    • ‘There are in fact two types of error that can be made when inferring statistical significance.’
    • ‘This prejudice is inferred, and no evidence is required to enable a judge to consider it.’
    • ‘A reasonable man would not infer guilt from the fact of a police inquiry.’
    • ‘It is, apparently, now possible to infer the colour of a person's skin from their typing.’
    • ‘Berndt infers a pull-apart basin as the reason for this local depression, because of the location between two major strike-slip faults.’
    • ‘In the first place it is possible to infer a certain topicality in the discourse.’
    • ‘In such a case… it may be possible to infer their common intention from their conduct.’
    deduce, reason, work out, conclude, come to the conclusion, draw the inference, conjecture, surmise, theorize, hypothesize
    View synonyms


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’.