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Imply vs. Infer

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These two words are actually quite different in their meanings and in the subject who commits the act itself. Yet despite their differences, they are regularly confused with one another. This is understandable, however. These words aren’t used too much in everyday conversation, and they are somewhat similar in their sound and function. They are both five letters, they both start with an “I,” and they both are verbs. So in today’s post I want to compare imply vs. infer, show you how they are different through examples, and give you a few ways to easily keep track of them for the future. After reading this post, you won’t ever confuse the two again.


The word imply originated from late Middle English: from Old French emplier, from Latin implicare, from in- ‘in’ + plicare ‘to fold’. The original sense was ‘entwine’; in the 16th and 17th centuries the word also meant ‘employ’. Compare with employ and implicate. The word infer originated in 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’.

Imply as verb:

Imply is used as a verb which means to indicate the truth or existence of (something) by suggestion rather than explicit reference.

Salesmen who use jargon to imply superior knowledge are the worst kind.

Infer as verb:

The word infer is used as a verb in English language where it means deduce or conclude (something) from evidence and reasoning rather than from explicit statements.

From these facts we can infer that crime has been increasing.


Her comments imply in a sly way that there is possible malfeasance by this administration. [Knoxville News Sentinel letter to the editor]

He seemed to imply that many of the debts in question are for items people failed to return after the bankruptcy was announced. [NASDAQ]

So all scientists can tell about each boat is where it is and how fast it moves, and they have to infer when it was actually fishing. [Chem Info]

On the table sits an untouched breakfast—the sodden castoffs, we infer, of the insolent child. [Time]

Imply or infer:

 These two words can be used to describe the same event, but not the same action, so it’s important to use infer vs. imply carefully. Imply is to suggest something indirectly. Infer is to conclude something based on evidence or reasoning. Here are a few good ways to keep track of these two words. To imply something is similar to making an implicit statement, and both imply and implicit start with “im.” A reader is someone who infers, and both words have an “r” in them.

Did you infer what I was trying to imply in this article?



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"Imply vs. Infer." STANDS4 LLC, 2017. Web. 21 Nov. 2017. <>.

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