1. generalize, generalise, extrapolate, infer (v)

    draw from specific cases for more general cases

  2. deduce, infer (v)

    conclude by reasoning; in logic

  3. deduce, infer, deduct, derive (v)

    reason by deduction; establish by deduction

  4. guess, infer (v)

    guess correctly; solve by guessing; "He guessed the right number of beans in the jar and won the prize"

  5. understand, infer (v)

    believe to be the case; "I understand you have no previous experience?"

Examples from classic literature
  • “But there must be a place–in which that condition can exist.” She had always been fond of discussions of this kind, and felt encouraged to find that they were still practicable. “It cannot be the–Inferno; that is clear, at least,” she added, with the sprightliness which was one of her characteristics; “perhaps–Purgatory? since you infer I have something to endure.”

    Old Lady Mary by Mrs. (Margaret) Oliphant
  • It would seem the discovery came upon Cavor very speedily. I infer rather than learn from his narrative that he was captured by the mooncalf herds under the direction of these other Selenites who “have larger brain cases (heads?) and very much shorter legs.” Finding he would not walk even under the goad, they carried him into darkness, crossed a narrow, plank-like bridge that may have been the identical bridge I had refused, and put him down in something that must have seemed at first to be some sort of lift. This was the balloon–it had certainly been absolutely invisible to us in the darkness–and what had seemed to me a mere plank-walking into the void was really, no doubt, the passage of the gangway. In this he descended towards constantly more luminous caverns of the moon. At first they descended in silence–save for the twitterings of the Selenites–and then into a stir of windy movement. In a little while the profound blackness had made his eyes so sensitive that he began to see more and more of the things about him, and at last the vague took shape.

    The First Men in the Moon by H. G. (Herbert George) Wells
  • “One knew that the moon had a lower specific gravity than the earth, one knew that it had little air or water outside, one knew, too, that it was sister planet to the earth, and that it was unaccountable that it should be different in composition. The inference that it was hollowed out was as clear as day. And yet one never saw it as a fact. Kepler, of course–”

    The First Men in the Moon by H. G. (Herbert George) Wells
  • Wilson went back to his principal and reported the failure of his mission. Luigi was incensed, and asked how it could be that the old gentleman, who was by no means dull-witted, held his trifling nephew’s evidence in inferences to be of more value than Wilson’s. But Wilson laughed, and said:

    The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson by Mark Twain
  • There may be an excess even of informing light. Niepce, a Frenchman, discovered “actinism,” that power in the sun’s rays which produces a chemical effect; that granite rocks, and stone structures, and statues of metal “are all alike destructively acted upon during the hours of sunshine, and, but for provisions of Nature no less wonderful, would soon perish under the delicate touch of the most subtle of the agencies of the universe.” But he observed that “those bodies which underwent this change during the daylight possessed the power of restoring themselves to their original conditions during the hours of night, when this excitement was no longer influencing them.” Hence it has been inferred that “the hours of darkness are as necessary to the inorganic creation as we know night and sleep are to the organic kingdom.” Not even does the moon shine every night, but gives place to darkness.

    Walking by Henry David Thoreau
  • During this dialogue Mr. Tulkinghorn has stood aloof by the old portmanteau, with his hands behind him, equally removed, to all appearance, from all three kinds of interest exhibited near the bed–from the young surgeon’s professional interest in death, noticeable as being quite apart from his remarks on the deceased as an individual; from the old man’s unction; and the little crazy woman’s awe. His imperturbable face has been as inexpressive as his rusty clothes. One could not even say he has been thinking all this while. He has shown neither patience nor impatience, nor attention nor abstraction. He has shown nothing but his shell. As easily might the tone of a delicate musical instrument be inferred from its case, as the tone of Mr. Tulkinghorn from his case.

    Bleak House by Charles Dickens
  • One might infer from Judy’s appearance that her business rather lay with the thorns than the flowers, but she has in her time been apprenticed to the art and mystery of artificial flower-making. A close observer might perhaps detect both in her eye and her brother’s, when their venerable grandsire anticipates his being gone, some little impatience to know when he may be going, and some resentful opinion that it is time he went.

    Bleak House by Charles Dickens
  • These encomiums bring them to Mount Pleasant and to Grandfather Smallweed’s house. The door is opened by the perennial Judy, who, having surveyed them from top to toe with no particular favour, but indeed with a malignant sneer, leaves them standing there while she consults the oracle as to their admission. The oracle may be inferred to give consent from the circumstance of her returning with the words on her honey lips that they can come in if they want to it. Thus privileged, they come in and find Mr. Smallweed with his feet in the drawer of his chair as if it were a paper foot-bath and Mrs. Smallweed obscured with the cushion like a bird that is not to sing.

    Bleak House by Charles Dickens
  • The room in which we found ourselves was clean, but extremely bare. A rather old-fashioned secretaire stood by the wall, with a chair drawn to the desk; in one corner was a shelf with half-a-dozen law books; and I can remember literally not another stick of furniture. One inference imposed itself: Mr. Bellairs was in the habit of sitting down himself and suffering his clients to stand. At the far end, and veiled by a curtain of red baize, a second door communicated with the interior of the house. Hence, after some coughing and stamping, we elicited the shyster, who came timorously forth, for all the world like a man in fear of bodily assault, and then, recognising his guests, suffered from what I can only call a nervous paroxysm of courtesy.

    The Wrecker by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Was the wreck worth more than we supposed? A sudden heat was kindled in my brain; the bids were nearing Longhurst’s limit of five thousand; another minute, and all would be too late. Tearing a leaf from my sketch-book, and inspired (I suppose) by vanity in my own powers of inference and observation, I took the one mad decision of my life. “If you care to go ahead,” I wrote, “I’m in for all I’m worth.”

    The Wrecker by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Well–and what suggested all this? and what is the inference to be drawn therefrom? What suggested it, is the circumstance of my best pupil–my treasure–being snatched from my hands, and put away out of my reach; the inference to be drawn from it is–that, being a steady, reasonable man, I did not allow the resentment, disappointment, and grief, engendered in my mind by this evil chance, to grow there to any monstrous size; nor did I allow them to monopolize the whole space of my heart; I pent them, on the contrary, in one strait and secret nook. In the daytime, too, when I was about my duties, I put them on the silent system; and it was only after I had closed the door of my chamber at night that I somewhat relaxed my severity towards these morose nurslings, and allowed vent to their language of murmurs; then, in revenge, they sat on my pillow, haunted my bed, and kept me awake with their long, midnight cry.

    The Professor by Charlotte Brontë
  • “Feeling no disposition to reply to him, I contented myself with an inward speculation on the differences which exist in the constitution of men’s minds. I do not know what inference Mr. Crimsworth drew from my silence–whether he considered it a symptom of contumacity or an evidence of my being cowed by his peremptory manner. After a long and hard stare at me, he rose sharply from his seat.

    The Professor by Charlotte Brontë
  • Mrs. Moreen declared that when she wrote he was very bad, and Pemberton learned at the same time from the boy that he had answered every letter he had received. This led to the clear inference that Pemberton’s note had been kept from him so that the game practised should not be interfered with. Mrs. Moreen was prepared to see the fact exposed, as Pemberton saw the moment he faced her that she was prepared for a good many other things. She was prepared above all to maintain that she had acted from a sense of duty, that she was enchanted she had got him over, whatever they might say, and that it was useless of him to pretend he didn’t know in all his bones that his place at such a time was with Morgan. He had taken the boy away from them and now had no right to abandon him. He had created for himself the gravest responsibilities and must at least abide by what he had done.

    The Pupil by Henry James
  • The disputes in theory–I do not say the difference in reality–between the modern believer and the atheist or agnostic–becomes at times almost as impalpable as that subtle discussion dear to students of physics, whether the scientific “ether” is real or a formula. Every material phenomenon is consonant with and helps to define this ether, which permeates and sustains and is all things, which nevertheless is perceptible to no sense, which is reached only by an intellectual process. Most minds are disposed to treat this ether as a reality. But the acutely critical mind insists that what is only so attainable by inference is not real; it is no more than “a formula that satisfies all phenomena.”

    God, the Invisible King by H. G. (Herbert George) Wells
  • Her tone was full of passionate yearning. He laughed, trying to appear at ease. Some sort of an understanding must be had with Diana sooner or later, and she might as well realize at this present interview that the old relations could not be restored. His nature was not brutal and he disliked to hurt her; moreover, the boy had an uneasy feeling that he had been a far more ardent admirer of this peculiar girl than any fellow should be who had had no serious intentions; yet it would be folly to allow Diana to think she could win him back to his former allegiance. No compromising word had ever left his lips; he had never spoken of love to her. Yet the girl’s attitude seemed to infer a certain possession of him which was far from agreeable.

    Aunt Jane's Nieces in Society by L. Frank (Lyman Frank) Baum
  • He was not very definite about this Science, you must understand, but he seemed always to be waving his hand towards it,–just as his contemporary Tennyson seems always to be doing–he belonged to his age and mostly his talk was destructive of the limited beliefs of his time, he led me to infer rather than actually told me that this Science was coming, a spirit of light and order, to the rescue of a world groaning and travailing in muddle for the want of it….

    The New Machiavelli by H. G. (Herbert George) Wells
  • It looks as though that ship of his had had some special service to perform. A careful explanation of all the circumstances was to be expected from our man, only, as I’ve said, some of his pages (good tough paper too) were missing: gone in covers for jampots or in wadding for the fowling-pieces of his irreverent posterity. But it is to be seen clearly that communication with the shore and even the sending of messengers inland was part of her service, either to obtain intelligence from or to transmit orders or advice to patriotic Spaniards, guerilleros or secret juntas of the province. Something of the sort. All this can be only inferred from the preserved scraps of his conscientious writing.

    Within the Tides by Joseph Conrad
  • Ther thei beryed hem both In nouther mosse nor lynge, And Litulle Johne and Muche infere Bare the letturs to oure kyng.

    A Collection of Ballads by Andrew Lang
  • With tears in her eyes and her arms around his neck, Marian, at parting, told Martin how much she loved him and always had loved him. It was true, there was a perceptible halt midway in her assertion, which she glossed over with more tears and kisses and incoherent stammerings, and which Martin inferred to be her appeal for forgiveness for the time she had lacked faith in him and insisted on his getting a job.

    Martin Eden by Jack London
  • “I don’t want to be talked about too much!” she muttered, mortified. Her inference was unmistakable. The whole of her mind seemed now to be occupied with an enormous grievance which she somehow had against the world in general. Her very soul, too, was bursting with this grievance.

    Hilda Lessways by Arnold Bennett
  • Despite all Hilda’s terrible wisdom and sagacity, this remark of the foolish mother’s was the truest word spoken in the discussion. It was Hilda’s tone that was at the root of the evil. If Hilda, with the intelligence as to which she was secretly so complacent, did not amicably rule her mother, the unavoidable inference was that she was either a clumsy or a wicked girl, or both. She indeed felt dimly that she was a little of both. But she did not mind. Sitting there in the small, familiar room, close to the sewing-machine, the steel fender, the tarnished chandelier, and all the other daily objects which she at once detested and loved, sitting close to her silly mother who angered her, and yet in whom she recognized a quality that was mysteriously precious and admirable, staring through the small window at the brown, tattered garden-plot where blackened rhododendrons were swaying in the October blast, she wilfully bathed herself in grim gloom and in an affectation of despair.

    Hilda Lessways by Arnold Bennett
  • I wished upon some occasion to borrow a Martial. He told me he had no such book, except by heart. I therefore inferred, that he could not immediately detect me. Accordingly I sent him an epigram which I had made, and an English version of it, as from the original. He commended the latter, but said, that it wanted the neatness of the Roman. When I undeceived him, he laughed, and forgave me.

    Lives of the English Poets by Henry Francis Cary
  • About Aristotle himself, he is scarce in less perplexity. He sets out by defining truth according to Aristotle’s description of it in these fourteen dreaded books of his metaphysics. Again he tells us, “he is most admired by those who best understand him;” and once more refers us to these fourteen books. But afterwards it would seem as if he had not himself read them; for speaking of metaphysics, he calls it that which Aristotle is said to have called theology, and the first philosophy: whereas Aristotle has explicitly called it so in these fourteen books;[3] and when he is recommending the study of the ancients, he adds; “Of Aristotle, I say nothing. We are assured by those who have read his works, that no one ever understood human nature better than he.” What are we to infer from this, but that he had not himself read them? For his distinction between common sense and reason, on which all his theory depends, he sends the reader to the fourth book of Aristotle’s Metaphysics, and to the first of his latter Analytics; and yet somewhere else he speaks of these as the most worthless of Aristotle’s writings. As for Plato, who on such a subject might have come in for some consideration, we are told that he was as much a rhetorician as a philosopher; and this, I think, is nearly all we hear of him.

    Lives of the English Poets by Henry Francis Cary
  • That it matters little or nothing to the happiness of men whether they are governed well or ill, whether they live under fixed and known laws, or at the will of an arbitrary tyrant, is a paradox, the fallacy of which is happily too apparent to need any refutation. Nor is his inference warranted by those particular observations which he makes for the purpose of establishing it. When of Italy he tells us, “that sensual bliss is all this nation knows,” how is Italy to be compared either with itself when it was prompted by those “noble aims,” of which he speaks, or with that country where he sees

    Lives of the English Poets by Henry Francis Cary
  • I have heard his Greek scholarship questioned in consequence of an error which, in his Epistles on History, he has made in the quantity of the word Olorus, the name of the father of Thucydides; but from a casual mistake of this sort, no decisive inference can be drawn.

    Lives of the English Poets by Henry Francis Cary
  • The change from the customary spot and necessary occasion of such an act–from the dressing hour in a bedroom to a time of travelling out of doors–lent to the idle deed a novelty it did not intrinsically possess. The picture was a delicate one. Woman’s prescriptive infirmity had stalked into the sunlight, which had clothed it in the freshness of an originality. A cynical inference was irresistible by Gabriel Oak as he regarded the scene, generous though he fain would have been. There was no necessity whatever for her looking in the glass. She did not adjust her hat, or pat her hair, or press a dimple into shape, or do one thing to signify that any such intention had been her motive in taking up the glass. She simply observed herself as a fair product of Nature in the feminine kind, her thoughts seeming to glide into far-off though likely dramas in which men would play a part–vistas of probable triumphs–the smiles being of a phase suggesting that hearts were imagined as lost and won. Still, this was but conjecture, and the whole series of actions was so idly put forth as to make it rash to assert that intention had any part in them at all.

    Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
  • A meditation on the obvious inference was indulged in by all, and during its continuance each directed his vision into the ashpit, which glowed like a desert in the tropics under a vertical sun, shaping their eyes long and liny, partly because of the light, partly from the depth of the subject discussed.

    Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
  • It was a sight that Bacchus and his bacchanals would have gloated over. Each puncheon was of a deep-green color, so covered with minute barnacles and shell-fish, and streaming with sea-weed, that it needed long searching to find out their bung-holes; they looked like venerable old loggerhead-turtles. How long they had been tossing about, and making voyages for the benefit of the flavour of their contents, no one could tell. In trying to raft them ashore, or on board of some merchant-ship, they must have drifted off to sea. This we inferred from the ropes that length-wise united them, and which, from one point of view, made them resemble a long sea-serpent. They were struck into the gun-deck, where, the eager crowd being kept off by sentries, the cooper was called with his tools.

    White Jacket by Herman Melville
  • But if of three famous English Admirals one has abhorred flogging, another almost governed his ships without it, and to the third it may be supposed to have been unknown, while an American Commander has, within the present year almost, been enabled to sustain the good discipline of an entire squadron in time of war without having an instrument of scourging on board, what inevitable inferences must be drawn, and how disastrous to the mental character of all advocates of navy flogging, who may happen to be navy officers themselves.

    White Jacket by Herman Melville
  • It is indirectly on record in the books of the English Admiralty, that in the year 1808–after the death of Lord Nelson–when Lord Collingwood commanded on the Mediterranean station, and his broken health induced him to solicit a furlough, that out of a list of upward of one hundred admirals, not a single officer was found who was deemed qualified to relieve the applicant with credit to the country. This fact Collingwood sealed with his life; for, hopeless of being recalled, he shortly after died, worn out, at his post. Now, if this was the case in so renowned a marine as England’s, what must be inferred with respect to our own? But herein no special disgrace is involved. For the truth is, that to be an accomplished and skillful naval generalissimo needs natural capabilities of an uncommon order. Still more, it may safely be asserted, that, worthily to command even a frigate, requires a degree of natural heroism, talent, judgment, and integrity, that is denied to mediocrity. Yet these qualifications are not only required, but demanded; and no one has a right to be a naval captain unless he possesses them.

    White Jacket by Herman Melville