v. in·ferred, in·fer·ring, in·fers
1. To conclude from evidence or by reasoning: "For many years the cerebral localization of all higher cognitive processes could be inferred only from the effects of brain injuries on the people who survived them" (Sally E. Shaywitz).
2. To involve by logical necessity; entail: "Socrates argued that a statue inferred the existence of a sculptor" (Academy).
3. (Usage Problem) To indicate indirectly; imply.
To draw inferences.
[Latin īnferre, to bring in, adduce : in-, in; see IN-2 + ferre, to bear; see bher-1 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
Usage Note: Infer is sometimes confused with imply, but the distinction careful writers make between these words is a useful one. When we say that a speaker or sentence implies something, we mean that it is conveyed or suggested without being stated outright: When the mayor said that she would not rule out a business tax increase, she implied (not inferred) that some taxes might be raised. Inference, on the other hand, is the activity performed by a reader or interpreter in drawing conclusions that are not explicit in what is said: When the mayor said that she would not rule out a tax increase, we inferred that she had consulted with new financial advisers, since her old advisers favored tax reductions.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.