early 15c., legal, "a charge, a formal accusation," from Old French surmise "accusation," noun use of past participle of surmettre (see surmise (v.)). Meaning "inference, guess" is first found in English 1580s.
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez, when with eagle eyes
He stared at the Pacific—and all his men
Look'd at each other with a wild surmise—
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.
c. 1400, in law, "to charge, allege," from Old French surmis, past participle of surmettre "to accuse," from sur- "upon" (see sur- (1)) + mettre "put," from Latin mittere "to send" (see mission). Meaning "to infer conjecturally" is recorded from 1700, from the noun. Related: Surmised; surmising.
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