Definition of speculate in US English:



[no object]
  • 1Form a theory or conjecture about a subject without firm evidence.

    ‘my colleagues speculate about my private life’
    with clause ‘observers speculated that the authorities wished to improve their image’
    • ‘Fischer speculated that the shifting social status of women during the war years stoked male anxiety about female bonding and independence from men.’
    • ‘He speculated that Katherine therefore had fallen out of a shattered window, adding: ‘If she had been wearing a seatbelt, that wouldn't have happened.’’
    • ‘But a lot of people speculated that that was the case.’
    • ‘Researchers speculated that organically grown plants are subject to more environmental challenges and therefore have stronger antioxidant defenses.’
    • ‘Andersen speculated that the amount would hover around $15,000.’
    • ‘Another delegate speculated that the Governor's extensive scriptwriting experience in Hollywood inspired the phrase.’
    • ‘O'Connor speculated that the funding ‘might lead to a greater focus on education, but we don't know now.’’
    • ‘Some speculated that it was, because there was limited evidence that another race had existed there once.’
    • ‘Some analysts have speculated that the ECB could cut interest rates soon to ward off damage to confidence and growth from tumbling share prices.’
    • ‘Many court watchers speculated that Stewart was probably smarter than all the lawyers put together and could hold up very well on cross-examination.’
    • ‘A lot of people speculated that the family was simply a prop.’
    • ‘Thompson speculated that this was probably the reason why Muskie had been acting so ‘erratic’ of late.’
    • ‘He also speculated that she may have been killed somewhere else and dumped at the spot, between 2 am and 6.30 am.’
    • ‘Some have speculated that it stems from the fact that most women are still regarded as outsiders in the corporate world, thus freeing them to do the right thing instead of the convenient thing.’
    • ‘Some time ago, I speculated that I thought the information age would be a tool that would ultimately make it difficult for governments to justify war.’
    • ‘Orwell astutely speculated that ‘quite possibly that particular fashion will not last.’’
    • ‘Ms Lee speculated that a library may be interested in purchasing the collection, with previous press reports suggesting the British Library.’
    • ‘Cohen at first speculated that the attacker may have been ‘just blagging’ and that he was only visiting the area, but later admitted that this was unlikely.’
    • ‘Dr. Penney, in his evidence, speculated that the error was a typographical one.’
    • ‘Oliver speculated that sometimes when people who are driven to succeed are placed under unbearable stress and can't bring themselves to quit, they do something that forces them to quit.’
    conjecture, theorize, form theories, hypothesize, make suppositions, postulate, guess, make guesses, surmise
    View synonyms
  • 2Invest in stocks, property, or other ventures in the hope of gain but with the risk of loss.

    ‘he didn't look as though he had the money to speculate in stocks’
    • ‘So you'd like to speculate on the stock market, but find the publicly quoted companies a bit too dry?’
    • ‘And the legions of other day traders who speculated on internet stocks are long gone.’
    • ‘A hedge fund borrows money to speculate in the stock market.’
    • ‘Large capitalists can invest in government bonds, or they can speculate in stocks and commodities whose price is soaring due to the inflation.’
    • ‘And, did it become popular to borrow in Euros to speculate in higher-yielding Mexican or Brazilian securities?’
    • ‘Business profits also allowed him to speculate in hinterland real estate, railroad stocks, and other enterprises in the hope of further returns.’
    • ‘But it seems some investors were willing to speculate on the stock before that.’
    • ‘And hedge funds, which make money by speculating on the stock market, may also cause further volatility in the coming days.’
    • ‘October is one of the most dangerous months to speculate in shares.’
    • ‘During the 1880s a number of banks had speculated in the property market and been left holding worthless bits of paper.’
    • ‘Fannie officials say they are in control of their risks and don't speculate with derivatives.’
    • ‘Many finance executives suspect the new rules have less to do with improving financial statements than with discouraging treasury departments from speculating with derivatives.’
    • ‘Amidst his wife and the other two techies, he has no interest in this new technology, happier taking walks in the quarry by a ruined church than speculating on internet stocks.’
    • ‘Spread bets carry a very high level of risk to your capital; only speculate with money you can afford to lose.’
    • ‘Interest rates were stable under the gold standard, and the small variation in bond prices did not admit a profitable opportunity to speculate in bonds.’
    • ‘It lets traders and investors speculate on the rate of fluctuation for US stocks.’
    • ‘How many are taking advantage of real estate inflation and mortgage interest deductibility to fund their retirement accounts or otherwise speculate in the markets?’
    • ‘Gambling on sports is like speculating on the stock market.’
    • ‘You should only speculate with risk capital (money you can afford to lose).’
    • ‘Let's just walk through some of the steps of this, if you actually are going to go out and speculate in the marketplace.’
    gamble, take a chance, take a risk, venture, take a venture, wager
    View synonyms


Late 16th century: from Latin speculat- ‘observed from a vantage point’, from the verb speculari, from specula ‘watchtower’, from specere ‘to look’.