Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • intransitive verb To make a judgment about (something) without sufficient evidence; guess.
  • intransitive verb To say (something) as a guess or conjecture.
  • intransitive verb To make a guess or conjecture.
  • noun An idea or opinion based on insufficiently conclusive evidence; a conjecture.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To accuse; make a charge against; also, to bring forward as an accusation.
  • In old English law, to suggest; allege.
  • To infer or guess upon slight evidence; conjecture; suspect.
  • Synonyms Imagine, Guess, etc. (see conjecture); fancy, apprehend, mistrust.
  • noun In old English law, a suggestion. See suggestion, 5.
  • noun In ecclesiastical law, an allegation in a libel.
  • noun The thought that something may be, of which, however, there is no certain or strong evidence; speculation; conjecture.
  • noun Thought; reflection.
  • noun Synonyms See surmise, verb, and inference.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb To imagine without certain knowledge; to infer on slight grounds; to suppose, conjecture, or suspect; to guess.
  • noun A thought, imagination, or conjecture, which is based upon feeble or scanty evidence; suspicion; guess.
  • noun obsolete Reflection; thought.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun Thought, imagination, or conjecture, which may be based upon feeble or scanty evidence; suspicion; guess; as, surmises of jealousy or of envy.
  • noun Reflection; thought; posit.
  • verb To conjecture, to opine or to posit with contestable premises.

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

  • noun a message expressing an opinion based on incomplete evidence
  • verb imagine to be the case or true or probable
  • verb infer from incomplete evidence

Etymologies

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

[Middle English surmisen, to accuse, from Old French surmise, feminine past participle of surmettre : sur-, sur- + mettre, to put (from Latin mittere).]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old French surmis, past participle of surmetre, surmettre ("to accuse"), from sur- ("upon") + metre ("to put").

Examples

  • As you can surmise from the whole movie situation, the Colombian bus system seems to be run by evangelicals and lewd fellows of the baser sort.

    1 The Journey To Huila « Unknowing

  • But all I can surmise is that compared to those mushy frozen vegetables that I mentioned in gross foods, these were heaven.

    Weird Foods « Colleen Anderson

  • Second, as I'm sure you may surmise, is the word "author."

    SPECIAL CONTEST ACTIVITY

  • What really happened we do not know, but the agreed surmise is that it was some stroke of the heart.

    CHAPTER XXXIX

  • When pump number six breaks down, threatening the precious drinking water and breathable air with its released chemicals - which we can surmise is the cause of mankind's slow descent from brainy to brainless - Alvin lacks the means to fix it and so embarks on a short quest to the local college Engineering department and library.

    REVIEW: Pump Six and Other Stories by Paolo Bacigalupi

  • We can surmise from the inventory too that Salas was probably a literate man as his goods included four books on surgery, a book of stories, and two hand-painted writing desks.

    Pestilence and Headcolds: Encountering Illness in Colonial Mexico

  • Also as you may surmise from the title, Nine pushes the consent issue a little before he gets an actual yes from Rose.

    The Boundaries of Consent (1/3)

  • Also as you may surmise from the title, Nine pushes the consent issue a little before he gets an actual yes from Rose.

    The Boundaries of Consent (1/3)

  • But my surmise is that Ms. Woodling has been salting away a cadre of such people in the DOJ (and that at least some of this cadre have been hired over the conventionally-credentialed people listed by Bart, which in itself is scarcely cause for concern, depending on the numbers).

    Balkinization

  • But my surmise is that Ms. Woodling has been salting away a cadre of such people in the DOJ (and that at least some of this cadre have been hired over the conventionally-credentialed people listed by Bart, which in itself is scarcely cause for concern, depending on the numbers).

    Balkinization

Comments

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  • I've just found this used with an object, a construction I've never seen before. Valid examples on Google for "surmise the situation" include:

    Without corollary information, the reader is left to surmise the situation with only limited knowledge.

    Of course, without seeing xrays I can only surmise the situation from your description.

    Slowly opening his eyes for the first time, John looks over at Jane and begins to surmise the situation.

    Other, irrelevant instances are errors for 'summarise', or where the verb is followed by a that-less content clause ('We surmise the situation might have its roots in situations like this'), or chance juxtapositions ('As you may surmise, the situation is muddled.').

    The OED does give one clear example of 'surmise' followed by an object (from 1817: 'The Governor-General surmised a circumstance, which always seems to have animated him to peculiar severity.'), and one where the object is a fused relative, which to me sounds much more natural, as it's like a clause ('Whatever the Jewish nation might surmise or know concerning a future life').

    June 25, 2009

  • This usage ain't in my 'lect.

    June 26, 2009