- a coherent group of tested general propositions, commonly regarded as correct, that can be used as principles of explanation and prediction for a class of phenomena: Einstein's theory of relativity.
- a proposed explanation whose status is still conjectural and subject to experimentation, in contrast to well-established propositions that are regarded as reporting matters of actual fact.
- Mathematics. a body of principles, theorems, or the like, belonging to one subject: number theory.
- the branch of a science or art that deals with its principles or methods, as distinguished from its practice: music theory.
- a particular conception or view of something to be done or of the method of doing it; a system of rules or principles: conflicting theories of how children best learn to read.
- contemplation or speculation: the theory that there is life on other planets.
- guess or conjecture: My theory is that he never stops to think words have consequences.
- in theory, ideally; hypothetically: In theory, mapping the human genome may lead to thousands of cures.
Origin of theory
Examples from the Web for theory
Is it sort of evidence of the Gladwellian 10,000 hours theory?Coffee Talk with Fred Armisen: On ‘Portlandia,’ Meeting Obama, and Taylor Swift’s Greatness
January 7, 2015
But a 2011 study of genetic evidence from 30 ethnic groups in India disproved this theory.The Himalayas’ Hidden Aryans
January 3, 2015
But, in theory, that started to change last week with the first meeting of SIX, the State Innovation Exchange.The Left’s Answer to ALEC
December 15, 2014
So I was happy to see that the European theory of terroir was in action, promoting with pride the qualities of a specific region.Beer Countries vs. Wine Countries
December 7, 2014
The theory was first floated in the 1950s by Professor Homer Dubs of Oxford University.The Chinese Town Descended From Romans?
December 4, 2014
Here is one theory that swallows up and annihilates all others.The Hall of Fantasy (From "Mosses From An Old Manse")
I thought him as true a representative of the people as ever theory could portray.Biographical Sketches
But the interference must be regulated by some theory of the individual's rights.A Treatise on Parents and Children
George Bernard Shaw
It is time now, I think, to test my theory by considering the converse of it.The Man Shakespeare
He keeps playing with action as an artist plays with a theory.De Profundis
- a system of rules, procedures, and assumptions used to produce a result
- abstract knowledge or reasoning
- a speculative or conjectural view or ideaI have a theory about that
- an ideal or hypothetical situation (esp in the phrase in theory)
- a set of hypotheses related by logical or mathematical arguments to explain and predict a wide variety of connected phenomena in general termsthe theory of relativity
- a nontechnical name for hypothesis (def. 1)
Word Origin and History for theory
1590s, "conception, mental scheme," from Late Latin theoria (Jerome), from Greek theoria "contemplation, speculation, a looking at, things looked at," from theorein "to consider, speculate, look at," from theoros "spectator," from thea "a view" + horan "to see" (see warrant (n.)). Sense of "principles or methods of a science or art (rather than its practice)" is first recorded 1610s. That of "an explanation based on observation and reasoning" is from 1630s.
- A systematically organized body of knowledge applicable in a relatively wide variety of circumstances, especially a system of assumptions, accepted principles, and rules of procedure devised to analyze, predict, or otherwise explain the nature or behavior of a specified set of phenomena.
- Abstract reasoning; speculation.
- A set of statements or principles devised to explain a group of facts or phenomena. Most theories that are accepted by scientists have been repeatedly tested by experiments and can be used to make predictions about natural phenomena. See Note at hypothesis.