Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • intransitive v. To meditate on a subject; reflect.
  • intransitive v. To engage in a course of reasoning often based on inconclusive evidence. See Synonyms at think.
  • intransitive v. To engage in the buying or selling of a commodity with an element of risk on the chance of profit.
  • transitive v. To assume to be true without conclusive evidence: speculated that high cholesterol was a contributing factor to the patient's health problems.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. to think, meditate or reflect on a subject; to deliberate or cogitate
  • v. to make an inference based on inconclusive evidence; to surmise or conjecture
  • v. to make a risky trade in the hope of making a profit; to venture or gamble

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To consider by turning a subject in the mind, and viewing it in its different aspects and relations; to meditate; to contemplate; to theorize
  • intransitive v. To view subjects from certain premises given or assumed, and infer conclusions respecting them a priori.
  • intransitive v. To purchase with the expectation of a contingent advance in value, and a consequent sale at a profit; -- often, in a somewhat depreciative sense, of unsound or hazardous transactions.
  • transitive v. To consider attentively.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To view as from a watch-tower or observatory; observe.
  • To take a discriminating view of; consider attentively; speculate upon; examine; inspect: as, to speculate the nature of a thing.
  • To pursue truth by thinking, as by mathematical reasoning, by logical analysis, or by the review of data already collected.
  • To take a discursive view of a subject or subjects; note diverse aspects, relations, or probabilities; meditate; conjecture: often implying absence of definite method or result.
  • To invest money for profit upon an uncertainty; take the risk of loss in view of possible gain; make a purchase or purchases, as of something liable to sudden fluctuations in price or to rapid deterioration, on the chance of selling at a large advance: as, to speculate in stocks.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. talk over conjecturally, or review in an idle or casual way and with an element of doubt or without sufficient reason to reach a conclusion
  • v. to believe especially on uncertain or tentative grounds
  • v. invest at a risk
  • v. reflect deeply on a subject

Etymologies

Latin speculārī, speculāt-, to observe, from specula, watchtower, from specere, to look at; see spek- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin speculātus, past participle of speculor ("look out"), from specula ("watchtower"), from specio ("look at") (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Yes, yes, but the freedom to speculate is essential --

    MIND MELD: Books We Love That Everyone Else Hates (and Vice Versa)

  • The latter instinct, I would speculate, is the ability of mammals to deny the self in favor of the herd.

    Hide this from Robin Hanson, Arnold Kling | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty

  • And on the right, I speculate, is the house we stayed in, with the missing loggia in tact.

    Campo San Vidal

  • Linking to the same Washington Post story, Crispin Sartwell, at his eyeofthestormblogs. com, writes: "this, we may speculate, is the reason that many prisoners of the u.s. will never be released: nothing they did before, but the secrets they learned in prison, the details of their own torture, present a security risk. we will not only torment you, we will detain/disappear you for having been tormented by us."

    Balkinization

  • The first thing Tkalec would have done, they speculate, is to find out just what he had.

    The Curse of the Sevso Silver

  • I used the word speculate, because that is what it is speculation.

    MyLinkVault Newest Links

  • Human capital, the authors speculate, is the best yardstick for measuring competence at a task in which “on-the-job” training and “learning by doing” don’t figure into the equation. — “Attack Assignments in Terror Organizations and the Productivity of Suicide Bombers,” Efraim Benmelech (Harvard University) and Claude Berrebi (RAND Corporation), National Bureau of Economic Research

    Primary Sources

  • I think if I had to speculate, which is I guess what we're doing here, that one line that Democrats are going to seize on, already have and will seize on for some time to come, is the comment early on after Katrina hit, when the president turned to Michael Brown and said, Brown, you're doing a heck of a job.

    CNN Transcript Sep 12, 2005

  • When you think about it -- I was working with a-- with a documentary producer who was trying to reach -- reach out to younger children, and he wanted me to speculate, which is something historians don't like to do, but he wanted me to speculate on what North America would look like if there hadn't been a Louisiana Purchase.

    A Wilderness So Immense: The Louisiana Purchase and the Destiny of America

  • Its own special object is to speculate, that is to say, to see; its attitude toward the living should not be that of science, which aims only at action, and which, being able to act only by means of inert matter, presents to itself the rest of reality in this single respect.

    Evolution créatrice. English

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