The Meaning of Infer: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of infer? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word infer, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word infer mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language as well as American Heritage and Collins English Dictionary, the word infer can either be used as a transitive verb or intransitive verb. This word means to derive as a conclusion from facts, as well as to guess or surmise. In short, inferring something means to draw inferences. Uses of infer include to draw deductions or implications from different premises, to hint at something, to to make a valuable distinction between two things. The intended sense of the proper word is to draw an inference. The pronunciation of infer is ɪnˈfɜːr. One will have to infer when there is ambiguity, and make a reasoned conclusion or logical consequence about something about which there may be no proof.  This verb has many different tenses, including the present participle, past tense, and more. There are many laws of valid inference that are studied in logic, including a third type of inference from Charles Sanders Peirce, per Shabdkosh

Many different languages also contain words that mean infer (vb.). You might notice that some of these translations of infer look similar to infer. These are called cognates, which are when words and phrases have a similar meaning and also look and sound similar between languages. These are often formed when two words have the same root or language of origin. This list of translations for the word infer is provided by Word Sense.

  •  Italian: inferire‎, dedurre‎, concludere‎, infliggere‎
  •  Occitan: inferir‎, dedusir‎, deduire‎, dedurre‎
  •  Dutch: concluderen‎
  •  Maori: hīkaro‎
  •  Greek: συμπεραίνω‎
  •  French: déduire‎
  •  Czech: vyvodit‎
  •  Russian: заключить‎ (pf), сделать заключение‎, сделать вывод‎, вывести‎ (pf)
  •  Latin: coniecto‎
  •  Swedish: sluta sig till‎
  •  Portuguese: inferir‎
  •  Hungarian: kikövetkeztet‎, dedukál‎
  •  Turkish: anlam çıkarmak‎, anlamına gelmek‎, anlamak‎, mana çıkarmak‎, manasına gelmek‎, sonucunu çıkarmak‎
  •  Spanish: inferir‎
  •  Polish: wnioskować‎, dedukować‎
  •  Romanian: motiva‎, deduce‎, infera‎
  •  German: schlussfolgern‎ 

What is the origin of the word infer?

According to Etymonline, the word infer (ɪnˈfɜr) had been used in logic since the 1520s and has a long history since the 16th century. This comes from the Latin inferre meaning to bring into. This comes from the Latin in from the Proto-Indo-European root en and the Latin ferre meaning to carry or bear from the Proto-Indo-European root bher meaning to carry or bear. This has been used to mean to draw a conclusion since the 1520s, and in an intransitive sense since the 1570s. Related words include the noun inference, the verb imply, and illative (adj.)/illatively (adv.).

How can the word infer be used in a sentence?

There are many situations in which you can use the verb infer in a sentence in both American English and UK English. Below are examples of infer.

From the candidate’s zeal on the phone, Thomas the recruiter could infer that she would accept the job offer. 

The writers of unquestioned ability were unable to infer the author’s meaning based on the circumstances. They were not given enough information to be able to make a useful distinction. 

Based on his cool tone of voice, the detective had the displeasure of knowing that the man committed the abduction. It was on this basis of information that he could infer logical conclusions about the particular premises where the man was keeping his victims.

The entire class was able to infer the universal conclusion that the professor at Princeton University was a liar

The publishers at Harpercollins Publishers and Random House were able to infer that the author was not in the proper state of affairs to finish his book on medieval Latin. 

The man came on to the woman in a suggestive manner, and she was able to infer that he was hitting on her. 

The chef inferred that he did not have the right number of beans in the jar to make the soup. He sent his kitchen assistant to the market immediately. 

What are synonyms and antonyms of the word infer?

There are many different words and phrases that a person can use in place of the word infer. These are called synonyms, which are words and phrases that have the same definition as another given word or phrase. Learning synonyms is useful if you are trying to avoid repeating the same word or if you are trying to expand your English language vocabulary. This list of synonyms for the word infer is provided by Thesaurus.

  •  judge
  •  read into
  •  conclude
  •  glean
  •  believe
  •  figure
  •  draw inference
  •  ascertain
  •  read between lines
  •  guess
  •  understand
  •  arrive at
  •  presuppose
  •  induce
  •  reach conclusion
  •  intuit
  •  think
  •  draw
  •  surmise
  •  interpret
  •  derive
  •  deduce
  •  eminence
  •  figure out
  •  speculate
  •  reason
  •  presume
  •  collect
  •  suppose
  •  construe
  •  reckon
  •  conjecture
  •  assume
  •  gather
  •  supposition

There are also numerous different words and phrases that have the opposite meaning of the word infer (ɪnˈfɜː). These opposite words are called antonyms. Learning antonyms is another quick and easy way to expand your vocabulary. This list of antonyms for the word infer is also provided by Thesaurus.

  •  misreckon
  •  miss the point
  •  miss
  •  misread
  •  be perplexed
  •  get wrong
  •  misjudge
  •  confuse
  •  misconceive
  •  miscomprehend
  •  misapprehend
  •  misunderstand
  •  take amiss
  •  fail
  •  confound
  •  miscalculate
  •  take wrongly
  •  misconstrue
  •  misinterpret
  •  be bewildered
  •  get wrong impression
  •  get signals crossed
  •  misapply
  •  be confused
  •  misknow
  •  mistake
  •  get signals mixed
  •  be at cross purposes
  •  not register

Overall, the word infer means to draw a conclusion or inference. This verb has been used since the 16th c and is of Indo-European roots.

Sources:

  1. infer | Origin and meaning of infer | Online Etymology Dictionary 
  2. infer: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense 
  3. INFER Synonyms: 41 Synonyms & Antonyms for INFER | Thesaurus 
  4. MISUNDERSTAND Synonyms: 36 Synonyms & Antonyms for MISUNDERSTAND 
  5. Infer | Definition of Infer | Merriam-Webster 
  6. infer – Meaning in Punjabi | Shabdkosh