• synonyms


[thee-uh-ret-i-kuh l]
See more synonyms for theoretical on Thesaurus.com
  1. of, relating to, or consisting in theory; not practical (distinguished from applied).
  2. existing only in theory; hypothetical.
  3. given to, forming, or dealing with theories; speculative.
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Often the·o·ret·ic.

Origin of theoretical

1610–20; theoretic (< Late Latin theōrēticus < Greek theōrētikós, equivalent to theōrēt(ós) to be seen (verbid of theōreîn to view) + -ikos -ic) + -al1
Related formsthe·o·ret·i·cal·ly, adverban·ti·the·o·ret·i·cal, adjectivean·ti·the·o·ret·i·cal·ly, adverbnon·the·o·ret·ic, adjectivenon·the·o·ret·i·cal, adjectivenon·the·o·ret·i·cal·ly, adverbun·the·o·ret·ic, adjectiveun·the·o·ret·i·cal, adjectiveun·the·o·ret·i·cal·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for theoretical

imaginative, abstract, metaphysical, intellectual, vague, academic, philosophical, logical, analytical, speculative, assumed, conjectural, contingent, general, ideal, impractical, pedantic, pure, quixotic, tentative

Examples from the Web for theoretical

Contemporary Examples of theoretical

Historical Examples of theoretical

  • What is the use of the theoretical belief in free-will in this case?

  • No longer was his grievance sentimental, theoretical or abstract.

    The Lion's Skin

    Rafael Sabatini

  • If so, should it be on examination or certificate, for practical or theoretical work, or both?

    College Teaching

    Paul Klapper

  • These objections are not of a purely abstract or theoretical character.

  • The psychologists were certainly not to be blamed for sticking to their theoretical interests.


    Hugo Mnsterberg

British Dictionary definitions for theoretical


theoretic (ˌθɪəˈrɛtɪk)

  1. of or based on theory
  2. lacking practical application or actual existence; hypothetical
  3. using or dealing in theory; impractical
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Derived Formstheoretically, 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 theoretical


1610s, from Late Latin theoreticus "of or pertaining to theory," from Greek theoretikos "contemplative, pertaining to theory" (by Aristotle contrasted to praktikos), from theoretos "that may be seen or considered," from theorein "to consider, look at" (see theory). Related: Theoretically.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

theoretical in Medicine


  1. Of, relating to, or based on theory.
  2. Restricted to theory; not practical.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.