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

  • n. The aspect of meaning that a speaker conveys, implies, or suggests without directly expressing. Although the utterance "Can you pass the salt?” is literally a request for information about one's ability to pass salt, the understood implicature is a request for salt.
  • n. The process by which such a meaning is conveyed, implied, or suggested. In saying "Some dogs are mammals,” the speaker conveys by implicature that not all dogs are mammals.

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  • n. An implied meaning that is not expressed directly.


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Coined by Paul Grice.


  • For Grice, irony is an overt violation of the maxim of truthfulness, and differs from metaphor and hyperbole only in the kind of implicature it conveys (metaphor implicates a simile based on what was said, hyperbole implicates a weakening of what was said, and irony implicates the opposite of what was said).

    Language Log

  • There was a question on NPR News today that asked (partially through implicature) why did this guy talk, when we needed torture to get the other guys to talk?

    Matthew Yglesias » We’re Getting Intel From Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab Because, not Despite, Handling Him Through the Criminal Justice System

  • For that reason, humans have developed complex systems of inference and implicature, conveyed meanings, and so on.

    2010 January « Motivated Grammar

  • Now, the fact that one gets this implicature, that only two sounds so much better than only one thousand, ought to suggest that there is logic underlying the construction.

    2009 March « Motivated Grammar

  • Violating this implicature makes a sentence sound weird, as with (3b):

    2009 March « Motivated Grammar

  • The real definition of only in only two is something along the lines of “exactly”, but with the crucial additional implicature that this is a smaller number than expected.

    2009 March « Motivated Grammar

  • This "conversational implicature," as we will hear it later called by Paul Grice, runs deep in

    Post-Secular Conviviality

  • Grice went on, in his influential William James lectures at Harvard on "The Logic of Conversation," to talk of "conversational implicature" — a non-conventional principle of cooperation necessary for communication to work.

    Post-Secular Conviviality

  • In the terms of formal semantics, this is suggestion of a discussion is an “implicature”, an assumption that can be negated by the rest of the sentence.

    2008 June « Motivated Grammar

  • Partly it's because scalar implicature is a relatively easily-studied test case for several prominent theories.

    Overnight data on lying and bragging


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