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Latin Roots: Imply, Infer

by Robin Boots-Ebenfield
(Swampscott HS Massachusetts)

Dear Latin Teacher,

I am looking for a segment from a movie from the 70's (I believe), which had a good repartee on the infer/imply difference. It was dead on, and I know my students would enjoy it and learn.

Thanks, Robin

Dear Robin,

Both words are from Latin roots: inferre = to bring in; implicare = to fold inside.

The English derivative imply means that the speaker folds information inside what he is saying.

The English derivative infer means the listener adds information into what he as heard.

I think the movie you are looking for is called DOA. The scene reads thus:

Bernard: I don't think I like what you're inferring, Mr. Cornell...

Dexter Cornell: (condescendingly) Implying. When I say it, that's implying. How you take it, that's inferring.

Bernard: I see. Infer this.

Hope this helps, and thanks for asking a Latin teacher.



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