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adjective pu·ta·tive \ˈpyü-tə-tiv\

Simple Definition of putative

  • : generally believed to be something

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of putative

  1. 1 :  commonly accepted or supposed

  2. 2 :  assumed to exist or to have existed

putatively adverb

Examples of putative in a sentence

  1. This has always been a nation willing to sell out its past for putative progress. —Anna Quindlen, Newsweek, 3 June 2002

  2. The putative champions of liberty took up the cry of dissent only after it had become profitable and safe … —Lewis H. Lapham, Harper's, June 2000

  3. Back in Hollywood in a few weeks, I was discouraged to find yet another putative director wandering about in the Cowan offices, also unpaid. —Arthur Miller, Timebends, 1987

  4. <the putative reason for her dismissal was poor job performance>

Did You Know?

There's no need to make assumptions about the root behind putative; scholars are quite certain the word comes from Latin putatus, the past participle of the verb putare, which means "to consider" or "to think." Putative has been part of English since the 15th century, and it often shows up in legal contexts. For instance, a "putative marriage" is one that is believed to be legal by at least one of the parties involved. When that trusting person finds out that his or her marriage is not sanctioned by law, other putare derivatives, such as dispute, disreputable, reputed, imputation, and deputy, may come into play.

Origin of putative

Middle English, from Late Latin putativus, from Latin putatus, past participle of putare to think

First Known Use: 15th century

Law Dictionary


adjective pu·ta·tive \ˈpyü-tə-tiv\

Legal Definition of putative

  1. :  thought, assumed, or alleged to be such or to exist <the child's putative father> <ignorantly entered into a putative marriage before the divorce from a previous spouse was final>

putatively adverb

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up putative? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


the range of perception or understanding

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