putative

adjective
pu·​ta·​tive | \ˈpyü-tə-tiv \

Definition of putative 

1 : commonly accepted or supposed

2 : assumed to exist or to have existed

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Other Words from putative

putatively adverb

Putative: Always Before a Noun

Putative is almost always used in front of a noun, the modified noun being that which is assumed or supposed to be. The putative cause of a death, for example, is the one widely believed to have caused it, even when it hasn't been proven or made certain. However, one does not say "the cause was putative."

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.

Examples of putative in a Sentence

This has always been a nation willing to sell out its past for putative progress. — Anna Quindlen, Newsweek, 3 June 2002 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 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 the putative reason for her dismissal was poor job performance
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Recent Examples on the Web

But, by pooling the work of so many groups, the Brainstorm Consortium was able to go beyond this and cross-correlate the putative genetic underpinnings of 25 psychiatric and neurological problems. The Economist, "A big collaboration is trying to understand diseases of the psyche," 28 June 2018 The authors are not sure that the putative gains yet warrant creating CBDCs. The Economist, "A primer on blockchain-based versions of central-bank money," 15 Mar. 2018 The analysis also finds that offsetting gains from putative trade deals with third countries are relatively small. The Economist, "How bad could it get?," 15 Mar. 2018 The court also sentenced Mr. Sharif’s daughter and putative political heir, 44-year-old Maryam Nawaz Sharif, to seven years in prison and a $2.6 million fine. Sadanand Dhume, WSJ, "Will Imran Khan Turn Pakistan Into an Islamic Welfare State?," 12 July 2018 Becoming Chief Toady may have solidified Pence’s position as putative successor to Trump as leader of the GOP and of MAGA country. Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, "George Will Calls ‘Repulsive’ Pence Worse Than Trump," 10 May 2018 Although Welteroth was a celebrity editor while helming Teen Vogue, the halo around her has dimmed since her departure as that of her putative successor, chief content officer Phillip Picardi (see below), has risen. Kara Bloomgarden-smoke | Wwd, latimes.com, "If Anna Wintour leaves Vogue, who will take over? Here are a few guesses," 19 Apr. 2018 In the Gibraltar region by the Mediterranean Sea, Rodrigues and colleagues took a focused approach, analyzing 11 putative whale bones from five sites. Michael Price, Science | AAAS, "Ancient seafarers may have hunted whales around the world," 10 July 2018 Beck is the putative hero, but in practice, the books are ensemble dramas, shading often into ensemble comedies. Alice Bolin, Longreads, "The Daughter as Detective," 26 June 2018

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for putative

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

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Last Updated

11 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for putative

The first known use of putative was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for putative

putative

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of putative

: generally believed to be something

putative

adjective
pu·​ta·​tive | \ˈpyü-tə-tiv \

Legal Definition of putative 

: 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

Other Words from putative

putatively adverb

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