hy·po·thet·i·cal | \ ˌhī-pə-ˈthe-ti-kəl \

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
hypothetically \ˌhī-pə-ˈthe-ti-k(ə-)lē \ adverb

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

An internal poll taken in late January shows former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen narrowly edging out Blackburn in a hypothetical match-up. James Hohmann, Washington Post, "The Daily 202: Trump budget highlights disconnect between populist rhetoric and plutocrat reality," 13 Feb. 2018 Though the company mentions high-frequency sounds as part of the ambient-audio collection process, these sounds aren't what will activate this hypothetical Facebook app's recording feature. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Facebook patent would turn your mic on to analyze how you watch ads," 28 June 2018 In our hypothetical run, the JDAMs will cripple the air defenses and command and control centers. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "B-52 Bombers Could Quadruple Their Wing Bomb Loads," 25 June 2018 The other third of the subjects were given only a description of the experiment, and asked to give their hypothetical responses. Katie Heaney, The Cut, "People Aren’t As Morally Superior As They Think They Are," 21 June 2018 The wall would probably delay a hypothetical crossing by a few minutes, depending on its design and the manner of the breach. Aaron Gilbreath, Longreads, "Trump’s Wall Would Devastate Big Bend National Park," 24 Apr. 2018 Finally, the idea that Vashukevich might have secretly taped their conversations isn’t just hypothetical. Andrew Prokop, Vox, "The escort claiming to have tapes proving Russian interference in the US election, explained," 3 Apr. 2018 What struck me was how crudely a hypothetical patient had been reduced to his race. Jennifer W. Tsai, STAT, "You can’t tell a book by its cover — or a disease by Drake’s race," 11 July 2018 Our hypothetical pension-fund trustee might instead switch funds to another active investor, who had done well by betting on recent winners. The Economist, "The growth of index investing has not made markets less efficient," 5 July 2018

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

13 Sep 2018

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 \

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).


a magnificent or impressive array

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