putative

adjective
pu·​ta·​tive | \ ˈpyü-tə-tiv How to pronounce putative (audio) \

Definition of putative

1 : commonly accepted or supposed
2 : assumed to exist or to have existed

Keep scrolling for more

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
See More
Recent Examples on the Web Some of the costs — like an annual payment of five million euros to Atlético Madrid, a putative rival, for first refusal on any of its players — make little sense. New York Times, "Barcelona and the Crippling Cost of Success," 12 Feb. 2021 Henry was the former governor of New York and the putative head of the Republican Party. Dorothy Wickenden, The New Yorker, "The Pre-Civil War Fight Against White Supremacy," 18 Jan. 2021 Unmoored from its counterweight, Celtic effectively found itself in a league of its own, its financial firepower vastly superior to any of its putative rivals’, any challenge to its hegemony entirely theoretical. New York Times, "Old Rivals, New Ideas and Why Some Clubs Are Reluctant to Try," 29 Jan. 2021 If two condensates interfere in just the right way, the group predicted, experimentalists should be able to capture direct images of bubbles forming in the condensate — ones that act similarly to the putative bubbles of the multiverse. quantamagazine.org, "Physicists Study How Universes Might Bubble Up and Collide," 25 Jan. 2021 Three House Democrats have now tested positive for COVID-19 since the attack, each attributing their infection to the irresponsibility and callous disregard of their putative colleagues. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "The Call Is Coming From Inside the House (and Senate)," 13 Jan. 2021 The deal was expected to be passed and signed into law the next day—although (America being an exemplar of deliberative democracy) the text had not been finalised or published just hours before the putative votes. The Economist, "America’s Congress agrees on a long-overdue stimulus compromise," 21 Dec. 2020 The putative end of the Cold War didn't mark the end for master spy storyteller John le Carré, who continued to write thrilling bestsellers of international intrigue and duplicity. CBS News, "This week on "Sunday Morning" (December 20)," 17 Dec. 2020 Arizona law requires that putative overvotes be subjected to further review in an effort to discern the actual intent of the voter. ... Emily Larsen, Washington Examiner, "Republicans file Arizona election lawsuit related to voting problems and disputed 'SharpieGate' allegations," 7 Nov. 2020

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about putative

Time Traveler for putative

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Listen to Our Podcast about putative

Statistics for putative

Last Updated

23 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Putative.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/putative. Accessed 25 Feb. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for putative

putative

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of putative

formal : generally believed to be something

putative

adjective
pu·​ta·​tive | \ ˈpyü-tə-tiv How to pronounce putative (audio) \

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on putative

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

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

More Confusing Words—Quiz

  • cats on impossible timber
  • The magician ______ moved the selected card to the top of the deck.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!