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

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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 The putative digit bones in Panderichthys are irregular in shape, and none of them show articulation with other bones in the standard way digit bones, or phalanges, do in the human hand. John A. Long, Scientific American, "How a 380-Million-Year-Old Fish Gave Us Fingers," 20 May 2020 But heading President Trump’s coronavirus task force put Pence in the White House briefing room at crucial moments, while other putative contenders such as Nikki Haley or Ted Cruz were forced from view. Rob Crilly, Washington Examiner, "Coronavirus spotlight shines a path for Mike Pence toward 2024," 15 May 2020 But there is no explanation as to why, after deeming the appeal worthy of pursuit, the State could not readily set forth its putative grounds for appeal in an opening brief. BostonGlobe.com, "to file their brief in the misdemeanor prostitution case against New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft.," 24 Sep. 2019 The six themes have all been given names reflecting some of the locations the company clearly thinks that putative Bacalar buyers are most likely to be associated with. Mike Duff, Car and Driver, "Bentley Dresses Up Bacalar in Wild Color and Design Treatments," 3 Apr. 2020 He had been urged to do so by Washington hands, particularly Democrats — everyone from putative presidential nominee Joe Biden and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer to a growing chorus in the House. Andrew C. Mccarthy, National Review, "On the Limits of Law," 21 Mar. 2020 For the putative Bentayga-plus SUV, that would almost certainly mean a plug-in-hybrid powertrain, as Bentley has committed to offering a hybrid option on every model by 2023. Mike Duff, Car and Driver, "Bentley Planning an Ultra-Luxury SUV," 17 Mar. 2020 In Seattle alone, a separate analysis of viral genomes suggests that there may have been 600 cases on March 1 in that city alone, comparable to the number of cases in the city of Wuhan, China, the putative epicenter of the pandemic, on January 1. Alexis C. Madrigal, The Atlantic, "How to Understand Your State’s Coronavirus Numbers," 12 Mar. 2020 The hidden long-range order of this putative state could rival the more obvious orderliness of a crystal. Quanta Magazine, "Ideal Glass Would Explain Why Glass Exists at All," 11 Mar. 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.

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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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Time Traveler for putative

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for putative

Last Updated

23 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Putative.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/putative. Accessed 1 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for putative


How to pronounce putative (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of putative

formal : generally believed to be something


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

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