Can both "guess" and "hunch" be used interchangeably or is there a minute difference? I know it doesn't apply to the phrase 'I guess', but generally when do you use "hunch"?
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Guesses are more assertive than hunches. A hunch can be seen as a hint or feeling and is something that typically indicates a suspected outcome or result:
The conveyed message is that there isn't much rhyme or reason behind a hunch. The only backing is... just that it exists. You very rarely have control over hunches and once you can point toward why you have a hunch it starts becoming less of a hunch and more of a guess.
A guess can drift from potshots to educated guesses and are considered more challengeable. Where a hunch simply describes your feelings or thoughts, a guess is expected to have some meat behind it. Asking why of a guess is expected. Asking why of a hunch is pretty pointless.
The scale does continue from there, but the range of guess is very broad and context is important:
Beyond guess are words like answer:
A "hunch" is typically associated with someone having an intuitive, "gut feeling" about something.
A "guess" is usually more generic and hints at less intuition or feeling and a tiny bit more cognition.
For me the differentiation is that one can precede the other in only one instance, meaning a hunch can precede a guess, but a guess would not precede a hunch.