Definition of infer in English:



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

    with clause ‘from these facts we can infer that crime has been increasing’
    • ‘There are in fact two types of error that can be made when inferring statistical significance.’
    • ‘While Greenberg qualifies her conclusions, she also overreaches in inferring a political sea change.’
    • ‘This prejudice is inferred, and no evidence is required to enable a judge to consider it.’
    • ‘We also analyze the evidence for the presence of a disease mutation after inferring the ancestry of a locus.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Rather, Matt is inferring it from all the talk of Social Security's problems starting in 2018.’
    • ‘It is, apparently, now possible to infer the colour of a person's skin from their typing.’
    • ‘In other words, it must be possible to infer a common intention to be bound by a contract which has legal effect.’
    • ‘In such a case… it may be possible to infer their common intention from their conduct.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Berndt infers a pull-apart basin as the reason for this local depression, because of the location between two major strike-slip faults.’
    • ‘Smuggling is inferred from a few of the tails allegedly being undersized and illegal.’
    • ‘I shall now suggest five reasons for inferring God as their source or ground.’
    • ‘By carefully measuring the spin of the outer electron, he says, it will be possible to infer the spin of the nucleus.’
    • ‘A reasonable man would not infer guilt from the fact of a police inquiry.’
    • ‘Nor is it open to the court to infer dishonesty from facts which have been pleaded but are consistent with honesty.’
    • ‘The street was not identified, although it is possible to infer the number of the house from the photograph.’
    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, the word implied means that something in the speaker's words ‘suggested’ that this man was a traitor (although nothing so explicit was actually stated). However, in we inferred from his words that the general had been a traitor, the word 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. Mistakes occur when infer is used to mean imply, as in are you inferring that I'm a liar? (instead of are you implying that I'm a liar?)


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’.