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

Despite relying on some hypothetical assumptions, the calculations highlight what could be a key question in Thursday’s debate among Democratic Party presidential contenders: What should the U.S. do to address yawning income and wealth inequality? Laura Davison, Fortune, "Richest Americans Would Have Lost Half Their Wealth Under Elizabeth Warren’s Tax Plan," 10 Sep. 2019 In that age bracket, Kennedy tops Markey by 7 points in the hypothetical five-person Senate race. Matt Stout, BostonGlobe.com, "Suffolk/Globe poll finds Kennedy leading Markey in possible Senate primary matchup," 7 Sep. 2019 To explain how the clause would apply to FEC reports, the brief provides a hypothetical scenario: A member of Congress up for reelection wants to galvanize a certain voter base, so the lawmaker proposes legislation the base likes. Morgan Cook, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Rep. Duncan Hunter argues his campaign filings are immune from prosecution," 6 Sep. 2019 Check out all of the hypothetical scenarios in the lyrics below. Heran Mamo, Billboard, "Here Are the Lyrics to Taylor Swift's 'The Man'," 5 Sep. 2019 The ability to defeat Donald Trump — the centerpiece of his campaign rationale — has become less sturdy as polls indicate other candidates, too, could beat the incumbent in a hypothetical match up. Philip Elliott, Time, "Fall Campaign Season Begins With Biden Teetering Atop Democratic Field," 31 Aug. 2019 Potentially located in the WASP-49b exoplanet system, approximately 550 light-years away from Earth, the hypothetical exomoon has been compared to 55 Cancri-e, a Super-Earth that has a surface temperature greater than 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Fox News, "Darth Vader's birthplace found? Evidence of dangerous volcano, lava world spotted in deep space," 30 Aug. 2019 The survey also found former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper leading U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, the Yuma Republican up for re-election, 53-40 in a hypothetical match. Nic Garcia, The Denver Post, "Colorado Democrats split among Sanders, Biden and Warren, first state poll says," 20 Aug. 2019 Now imagine further this hypothetical Maze Runner movie also had reportedly huge back-end talent deals and one trade magazine claimed the film needs $400 million to break even. James Hibberd, EW.com, "The 17 biggest summer box office winners and losers of 2019," 14 Aug. 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

13 Sep 2019

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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).


one from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

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