Infer, deduce, conclude, judge, gather are comparable when they mean to arrive at by reasoning from evidence or from premises. All except gather are so clearly differentiated in logical use that these distinctions tend to be retained in general use.
The derivative nouns inference, deduction, conclusion, judgment, especially as applied to the propositions or mental formulations derived by reasoning, are even more precisely fixed in usage. Infer basically implies a formulating (as of an opinion, a principle, a fact, or a probability) from evidence presented or premises accepted. In general use the term often connotes slightness in the evidence and so comes close to surmise; in logic, however, it and inference convey no suggestion of weakness or strength
Deduce, in nontechnical language, usually means to infer, with added implications of very definite grounds for the inference; in strict logical use, it means to derive an inference from a general principle; that is, to make a deduction as opposed to an induction (see DEDUCTION 3 ). This distinction, an important one to logicians and philosophers, is nearly lost in general use.
Conclude is often employed as an equivalent of deduce in its general sense. More precisely used, it means to draw the inference that is the necessary consequence of preceding propositions whether these propositions are the premises of a syllogism or the members of a series of previously drawn inferences constituting an unbroken chain of reasoning.
A conclusion is therefore either the third proposition of a syllogism or the final, summarizing proposition in a rational process. In general use conclude and conclusion frequently preserve the implication of logical necessity in the inference.
Judge and judgment are nearly equivalent to conclude and conclusion but usually connote careful examination of evidence or critical testing of premises and the fitness of the conclusion for affirmation.
To gather is to conclude, but it connotes reflection rather than careful reasoning, and the putting of two and two together.