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Guesstimate

Guesstimate is a colloquial neologism formed by combining guess and estimate. It is synonymous with both those words. As a noun, it’s usually pronounced GUESS-tuh-mitt. As a verb, it’s usually GUESS-tuh-mate.

Guesstimate might be considered out of place in formal writing. It’s often used to affect the kind of cutesy tone that is more likely to annoy readers than amuse them. But it is increasingly used in earnest, especially in American writing (the word is probably American in origin). Based on our nonexhaustive research, it seems to appear most often in Midwestern publications.

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Examples

We haven’t seen him on the big screen since the 2007 “Rush Hour 3,” and can’t even guesstimate the last time he did stand-up. [Chicago Tribune]

I call them the forlorn 30 percent of Chicago, a guesstimate, mostly black communities on the South and West sides where no investment occurs. [Chicago Sun-Times]

But officials acknowledge that is a bit of a guesstimate until developers undertake a new round of soil tests. [Minneapolis Star Tribune]

You’ll have to guesstimate the other costs, based on how often you typically use healthcare and what you use. [Los Angeles Times]

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Comments

  1. Progsprach says:

    I think that they want to mix the connotations of “guess” which implies just making up a number based on some quick thinking and “estimate” which implies more having made an approximate calculation, so guesstimate would mean making up the different factor and then making a calculation with them. However, this does not seem to be reflected in the quotes so they seem to have just used the word to be cool.(I’m not native speaker)

  2. reardensteel says:

    Regardless how it’s used, I think this word is intended to represent something sort of in between a guess and an estimate.

    Guess: based mostly on what is called a “gut feeling”
    Guesstimate: combines the “gut feeling” with some facts and one’s understanding
    Estimate: based almost solely on facts and one’s understanding of matters

    That’s my take.
    Anyway, I can’t stand the word.

    I also notice a lot of people use “estimate” when they mean “projection”.
    Example: “Please give us a cost estimate for this planned project.”
    Just as a diagnosis is an assessment of the current situation, an estimate concerns only the present state of things.
    Am I correct on that?

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