hy·​po·​thet·​i·​cal | \ ˌhī-pə-ˈthe-ti-kəl How to pronounce hypothetical (audio) \

Definition of hypothetical

: involving or being based on a suggested idea or theory : being or involving a hypothesis : conjectural hypothetical arguments a hypothetical situation

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Other Words from hypothetical

hypothetical noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for hypothetical


academic (also academical), conjectural, speculative, suppositional, theoretical (also theoretic)


actual, factual, real

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Examples of hypothetical in a Sentence

She described a hypothetical case to clarify her point. we talked about what we would do in various hypothetical emergencies

Recent Examples on the Web

That discovery allowed black holes to cross the line from very accepted hypothetical to physical reality. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "How They Got the Black Hole Picture That Changed Science," 10 Apr. 2019 There’s too much left to do before H.E.R.’s Afropunk set later in the day—lipsticks to be swatched, clothes to be shuffled between racks, cameras to be readied—to waste any time on fires, real or hypothetical. Olivia Horn, Vogue, "At Afropunk, H.E.R. Rules the Stage with Sunglasses, Space Buns, and a Feminist Message," 27 Aug. 2018 The paper caused a backlash, say researchers in New Zealand, because some felt that the authors implied that the actual use of gene drives in New Zealand was imminent rather than hypothetical. Amy Dockser Marcus, WSJ, "Communities Raise Their Voices on Genetic Engineering," 27 July 2018 Heatwole said that analysis was based on hypothetical scenarios. Becky Bohrer, Anchorage Daily News, "Regional EPA official cites concerns with Pebble mine draft environmental review," 2 July 2019 The rest of the team is littered with talent, some realized and some hypothetical. Mike Singer, The Denver Post, "Nuggets free agency: 8 realistic targets in wake of Denver’s Paul Millsap decision," 29 June 2019 Today, partisan lawmakers can use algorithms to design thousands of hypothetical district maps nearly instantaneously. Louise Matsakis, WIRED, "Big Data Supercharged Gerrymandering. It Could Help Stop It, Too," 28 June 2019 By 2021, both the interlocutors and issues at the heart of hypothetical new talks with Iran would be different. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, "A future Democratic president may be unable to save the Iran deal," 28 June 2019 With a healthy Durant back in 2020-21, that hypothetical duo could help the Nets make some noise in the East. USA TODAY, "NBA free agency: What are the options for Kevin Durant?," 27 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hypothetical.' 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 hypothetical

1588, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for hypothetical

Last Updated

19 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for hypothetical

The first known use of hypothetical was in 1588

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More Definitions for hypothetical



English Language Learners Definition of hypothetical

: involving or based on a suggested idea or theory : involving or based on a hypothesis
: not real : imagined as an example


hy·​po·​thet·​i·​cal | \ ˌhī-pə-ˈthe-ti-kəl How to pronounce hypothetical (audio) \

Kids Definition of hypothetical

1 : involving or based on a hypothesis
2 : imagined as an example for further thought a hypothetical situation

Other Words from hypothetical

hypothetically adverb speaking hypothetically

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Comments on hypothetical

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


appealing forcibly to the mind or reason

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