Definition of in theory in English:

in theory

phrase

  • Used in describing what is supposed to happen or be possible, usually with the implication that it does not in fact happen.

    ‘in theory, things can only get better; in practice, they may well become a lot worse’
    • ‘The precautionary principle sounds good in theory, but in practice it is a nightmare.’
    • ‘This concept, though brilliant in theory, is utterly, utterly painful in practice.’
    • ‘While in theory that's an admirable trait, in practice it's pretty uncomfortable.’
    • ‘Radar also uses microwaves, so that in theory it would be possible to cook food by putting it at the focus of a radar dish.’
    • ‘The software makes it possible, in theory, to see and manage files on any storage system or server.’
    • ‘These are ideas which are beautiful in theory but limp and bedraggled in practice.’
    • ‘The Freedom of Information Act is, in theory, a way of ensuring that happens.’
    • ‘However, although this sounds good in theory, in practice it never quite seems to work that way.’
    • ‘Working on Saturdays is always confusing because we start earlier and, in theory, end earlier.’
    • ‘In theory it may seem like a great idea but, in theory, so do so many ideas until they are put into practice.’
    in principle, on paper, in the abstract, all things being equal, in an ideal world
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