coun·​ter·​fac·​tu·​al | \ ˌkau̇n-tər-ˈfak-chə-wəl How to pronounce counterfactual (audio) , -chəl, -shwəl, -chü-əl \

Definition of counterfactual

: contrary to fact counterfactual assumptions

Examples of counterfactual in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Barr has also sought to make counterfactual claims about the degree of force used. Matt Zapotosky, Anchorage Daily News, "More than 1,250 former Justice Department workers want probe of Barr’s role at D.C. protest," 10 June 2020 Barr has also sought to make counterfactual claims about the degree of force used. Matt Zapotosky,, "More than 1,250 former Justice workers want probe of Barr’s role at Lafayette Square protest," 10 June 2020 Later in the episode, Alex and Laura talk with the book and film critic Lidija Haas about Rodham, Curtis Sittenfeld’s counterfactual novelization of the life of Hillary Clinton. The New Republic, "Vaccines Don’t Make Money," 3 June 2020 No good comes from applying rumination and counterfactual thinking to disappointment, however. Arthur C. Brooks, The Atlantic, "Two Mental Errors That Make the Pandemic Harder to Bear," 23 Apr. 2020 Yet the counterfactual scenario DiSavino invokes, in which mountain women and African-American string bands were granted their rightful, central place in early country music, is heartening to entertain. Lidija Haas, Harper's Magazine, "New Books," 27 Apr. 2020 His counterfactual insistence that the situation was under control did nothing to slow the viral spread through February and early March. Gilad Edelman, Wired, "The Analogy Between Covid-19 and Climate Change Is Eerily Precise," 25 Mar. 2020 The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, Pullman’s 2010 counterfactual retelling of the events of the Gospels, is for me a more fiercely imaginative encounter with Christianity, and a fairer fight. James Parker, The Atlantic, "Can Atheism Inspire Great Fantasy?," 15 Oct. 2019 For instance, an inability to stop counterfactual thinking—concocting alternatives to events that have already happened—is to be expected at first, Dr. Shear says. Patia Braithwaite, SELF, "Here's When It's Time to See Someone About Your Grief," 2 Aug. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'counterfactual.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of counterfactual

1946, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of counterfactual was in 1946

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Last Updated

18 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Counterfactual.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Jul. 2020.

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