Definition of hypothetical in English:



  • 1Based on or serving as a hypothesis.

    ‘let us take a hypothetical case’
    • ‘Some philosophers have adduced hypothetical examples to support the conclusion that we ought to set the threshold very high.’
    • ‘In advance of combat, polls filled with hypothetical questions have limited predictive ability.’
    • ‘The hypothetical question based on the operative report of Dr. Carroll was put to Dr. Winton in these terms by defence counsel.’
    • ‘These situations are not hypothetical; they are based on real stories from faculty members across the country.’
    • ‘And it is to the world that is there that the scientist must go to confirm or disconfirm the hypothetical objects of scientific theory.’
    • ‘Estimating requires speculation because it is hypothetical.’
    • ‘The identification of risk starts with considering hypothetical scenarios based on past experience, i.e., the ‘what if’ approach.’
    • ‘However, the onlap interpretation is based on hypothetical time lines in unstudied locations.’
    • ‘The preceding description of a hypothetical study is based on the use of traditional endoscopie methods.’
    • ‘A hypothetical case explores the legal issues involved.’
    • ‘I'm just pointing out to you a hypothetical experiment.’
    • ‘For illustrative purposes, various hypothetical cases of age-related cognitive decline will be described and discussed.’
    • ‘The analysis was based on a hypothetical cohort of 60-year-old medical patients being treated for acute respiratory failure.’
    • ‘Estimates that do exist are based on hypothetical projections from local investigations with questionable validity.’
    • ‘This program produces a subset of hypothetical products based on the attribute levels provided by the researcher.’
    • ‘Consider these hypothetical examples based on cases I have seen during my work in social services.’
    • ‘In the circumstances, I am unwilling to express a conclusion based on a hypothetical view of the evidence in respect of an issue now academic.’
    • ‘This term reflects the fact that he developed it through reflection on John Rawls' account of justice as grounded on a hypothetical social contract.’
    • ‘But any thoughts of expanding the program are ‘based on hypothetical funding,’ Cecire said.’
    • ‘On this I will defend the use of hypothetical philosophical thought experiments.’
    exploratory, investigational, probing, fact-finding, trial and error
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    1. 1.1 Supposed but not necessarily real or true.
      ‘the hypothetical tenth planet’
      • ‘Of course, it is a mistake to suppose that a hypothetical future state of perfect toleration means toleration in or of the present: far from it.’
      • ‘The study was based on a hypothetical, 40-million-gallon-per-year ethanol plant and national averages.’
      • ‘Consider a hypothetical fund that invests only in 10-year T-notes.’
      • ‘The Kuiper belt is a hypothetical massive flattened disc of billions of icy planetesimals supposedly left over from the formation of the solar system.’
      • ‘And that's assuming some hypothetical ideal of day care.’
      • ‘He is good at imagining the details of these hypothetical lives.’
      • ‘The sailing rig is hypothetical and based on Roman practice.’
      • ‘I don't think a hypothetical extra tenth to the team total is more important than the emotional well-being of any individual.’
      • ‘That hypothetical intra-mercurial planet was labeled Vulcan, even though it had yet to be found.’
      • ‘The classic case is that of the hypothetical planets.’
      • ‘There is no light coming from the casements in the lower part of this hypothetical window - supposing the design to be similar to the other windows.’
      • ‘Her discussion of a hypothetical planet perturbing Uranus in the sixth edition of this work led Adams to his investigation and subsequent discovery of Neptune.’
      theoretical, speculative, conjectured, imagined, notional, suppositional
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    2. 1.2Logic Denoting or containing a proposition of the logical form if p then q.
      • ‘This is the only point in the Socratic Dialogue where hypothetical situations are allowed.’
      • ‘What of hypothetical propositions like if it is raining now, then either it is raining or it is snowing?’
      • ‘They compared the difficulties of concrete versus abstract and factual versus hypothetical contexts for word problems.’
      • ‘It is Stoic logic and Boethius's relations to it which give his treatise On hypothetical syllogisms its special interest.’
      • ‘For some time, legal scholars invoked the dilemma of the ‘equal opportunity harasser’ as a hypothetical paradox.’


usually hypotheticals
  • A hypothetical proposition or statement.

    ‘officials refuse to discuss military policy except in coy hypotheticals’
    • ‘This is another one of these stupid columns that has to conjure up hypotheticals in order to criticize.’
    • ‘I don't think that it's really useful to get into hypotheticals about what we may or may not do.’
    • ‘Clarke adds a great deal of color to illustrate his hypotheticals.’
    • ‘But I think it's probably not best to get into hypotheticals here.’
    • ‘The majority wrongly dismissed these as hypotheticals when in fact such takings are already occurring throughout the country.’
    • ‘For instance, suppose - as a hypothetical - that a woman says she was not hired for a particular job due to sex discrimination.’
    • ‘Well clearly, it would either be ended or renegotiated, I mean there's a lot of hypotheticals there.’
    • ‘This provides some interesting hypotheticals.’
    • ‘I don't think I can deal in hypotheticals at this stage.’
    • ‘Or to put it more bluntly, some hypotheticals obscure more than they reveal.’
    • ‘The president keeps wanting to debate fiction or hypotheticals rather than debate the reality of what's on the ground.’
    • ‘Most soldiers won't fit any of these hypotheticals, but they'll fall somewhere near the middle case.’
    • ‘Most of us focus on our own lives and few of us enjoy thinking about horrific hypotheticals.’
    • ‘What makes this hypothetical unusual and unrealistic is the unambiguously objective manifestation of intent in the advertisement.’
    • ‘Of course, Greg is a sensible fellow, so he doesn't confuse such hypotheticals with real-life reality.’
    • ‘And I'm not here to deal with hypotheticals on what might happen in the eventuality of that highly desirable outcome not coming about.’
    • ‘That's the reason why Morris and I are both speaking in hypotheticals.’
    • ‘I have looked, and so far I have heard plenty of hypotheticals, but no actual cases.’
    • ‘I know you hate hypotheticals, but it is a fair question.’
    • ‘I might quibble with details of Wax's hypotheticals.’