I'm working on some software programming documents where certain types can be inferred from the code*. I have this tendency to then called these inferred types the implicit type. This makes sense because it's a contrast to an explicit type.

What bothers me is that the word implicit appears to have imply as its root. Knowing these types are inferred and not implied makes it odd to use the word implicit. It might however just be the history of the word and thus no longer relevant.

Is it okay to call these inferred types an implicit type?

*In non-programming terms: I have a document which describes an object. Some of the properties of the object are not actually written down, but can be inferred from the other listed properties.

  • Can they not be inferred because they are implied?
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Dec 11, 2013 at 6:51
  • @AndrewLeach, I suppose they could. Commented Dec 11, 2013 at 6:58

2 Answers 2


According to google:

implicit adjective

  1. suggested though not directly expressed.

"comments seen as implicit criticism of the policies"

  1. always to be found in; essentially connected with.

"the values implicit in the school ethos"

Looking at the above two definitions, implicit can be used as the qualities are 'indirectly' expressed and hence would have to be inferred. Also, these are qualities, as per my understanding, though not obvious, are an integral part of the code, hence implied.

  • Is it fair to say that the "code implies the implicit types" and the compiler "infers the implicit types"? Commented Dec 11, 2013 at 7:13
  • If you are asking for your clarity, then yes. Commented Dec 11, 2013 at 7:15
  • Please read the second '1.' as '2.'. It simply is not reflecting in the final text! Commented Dec 11, 2013 at 7:22

A speaker or writer can imply something ,and the listener or reader can infer it . imply means suggest that something is true without saying or showing it directly . infer means to form an opinion that is probably true because of other information that you already know .

So by these definitions implicit can not be used.

  • 1
    The difference between these words is only significant when the actor is important. In this case, the results of the action are the focus (i.e. the actor doesn't matter), so the words are interchangeable. The properties can be implied or they can be inferred, and they are indirectly determined either way.
    – Jed Schaaf
    Commented Apr 15, 2016 at 14:09

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