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adjective Also hy·po·thet·ic (for defs 1–4).
  1. assumed by hypothesis; supposed: a hypothetical case.
  2. of, pertaining to, involving, or characterized by hypothesis: hypothetical reasoning.
  3. given to making hypotheses.
  4. Logic.
    1. (of a proposition) highly conjectural; not well supported by available evidence.
    2. (of a proposition or syllogism) conditional.
  1. a hypothetical situation, instance, etc.: The Secretary of Defense refused to discuss hypotheticals with the reporters.

Origin of hypothetical

1580–90; < Greek hypothetik(ós) supposed (hypo- hypo- + the- put (base of tithénai to put, do1) + -tikos -tic) + -al1
Related formshy·po·thet·i·cal·ly, adverbun·hy·po·thet·i·cal, adjectiveun·hy·po·thet·i·cal·ly, adverb

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for hypothetical



  1. having the nature of a hypothesis
  2. assumed or thought to exist
  3. logic another word for conditional (def. 4)
  4. existing only as an idea or concepta time machine is a hypothetical device
Derived Formshypothetically, adverb
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for hypothetical

1580s, from Greek hypothetikos "pertaining to a hypothesis," from hypothesis (see hypothesis). Related: Hypothetically; hypothetic.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper