I have not found Steve Jobs's definition of "impute" in any dictionary. Why?


I’m curious why I can’t find the below definition of impute in any dictionary.
I look forward to your feedback.

impute. …“convey values and importance in everything a company does”. I found this definition in Walter Isaacson’s biography.

usual definitions are along the lines of:
verb (used with object), imputed, imputing.
to attribute or ascribe:
The children imputed magical powers to the old woman.
to attribute or ascribe (something discreditable), as to a person.
Law. to ascribe to or charge (a person) with an act or quality because of the conduct of another over whom one has control or for whose acts or conduct one is responsible.
Theology. to attribute (righteousness, guilt, etc.) to a person or persons vicariously; ascribe as derived from another.

Isaacson includes Jobs’ mention of “imputing” several places in his biography (https://books.google.com/books?id=8U2oAAAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=steve+jobs+biography&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiA-9vP4e_KAhUDcT4KHRGOCMwQ6AEIHDAA#v=onepage&q=impute&f=false). In the other examples, it seems clearer that Jobs was referring to meaning 3 - he wanted customers to see the high quality of his product launches and infer that the company as a whole and all its products were of high quality.

Thanks Andy L. Very helpful.

As an aside to the main topic, I had a senior management type where I used to work who was always trying to sound educated (but often failing) when he would say (or write) things like “I value your impute on this issue…” I took it to mean he was trying to say “input.” He had quite a few other such manglings in his repertoire. Otherwise he was an effective manager.

A work-buddy and I tried to collect his and others’ neologisms from similarly partially literate sources. We had quite a batch of them. :slight_smile:

Nitpick: the example you give is not a neologism; it’s a malapropism.

The Oxford English Dictionary has a definition which may the one Jobs intended:

Impute: To attribute or assign (value) to a product or process by inference from the value of the products or processes to which it contributes.

There are cites going back to the 1890s, and they are nearly all from economic texts or commentaries.

The older senses of the word are nearly all used in negative contexts; we impute guilt, or liability, or fault. But the economists seen to use the term neutrally or positively.

Sounds kinda like the definition of “impute” used in the legal phrase “imputed income.” This term comes up in divorce proceedings sometimes. Alimony is usually set at some percentage of the difference between the two party’s incomes – but if one party isn’t working, or is earning well below his or her earning potential, the other party can argue that their ex-spouse should be earning thus-and-such amount (their “imputed income”), and that Alimony should be calculated accordingly.

Thanks UDS. It would be interesting to find out why or how that shift in meaning occurred.