AskDefine | Define guesstimate

Dictionary Definition

guesstimate n : an estimate that combines reasoning with guessing [syn: guestimate] v : estimate based on a calculation

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Etymology

Pronunciation

  • (noun): guess-tim-ate
  • (verb): guess-tim-ATE
    Rhymes: -eɪt

Alternative spellings

Noun

  1. an estimate that is hardly any better than a guess, often because it is based on insufficient or unreliable data.

Verb

  1. To make a guesstimate.
  2. To make a guesstimate of a specific quantity.

Extensive Definition

Guesstimate is a portmanteau of the words guess and estimate. It describes a process of estimation that includes an element of guesswork, and implies that the result of the guesstimate will be less reliable than an estimation based on more confident information. Like the word estimate, guesstimate may be used as a verb or a noun (with the same change in pronunciation).
The word is usually not considered correct in formal English. Most if not all users of the word are aware of this and use the word in a humorous or informal way. However, both the Oxford English Dictionary and Merriam-Webster include definitions for "guesstimate" and, according to the OED, it has been used in print as early as 1936.
Guesstimates form a part of many case interviews. The interviewee may be asked to calculate anything from the number of buffaloes in Indonesia to the number of six packs of beer sold on Saint Patrick's Day in Michigan. Though the interviewer is not expecting an accurate answer, it is important to follow a line of logic to arrive at the final guesstimate.
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