theoretical

adjective
the·​o·​ret·​i·​cal | \ ˌthē-ə-ˈre-ti-kəl How to pronounce theoretical (audio) , ˌthir-ˈe-ti-kəl\
variants: or less commonly theoretic \ ˌthē-​ə-​ˈre-​tik How to pronounce theoretic (audio) , ˌthir-​ˈe-​tik \

Definition of theoretical

1 : existing only in theory : hypothetical gave as an example a theoretical situation
2a : relating to or having the character of theory : abstract
b : confined to theory or speculation often in contrast to practical applications : speculative theoretical physics
3 : given to or skilled in theorizing a brilliant theoretical physicist

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Synonyms & Antonyms for theoretical

Synonyms

academic (also academical), conjectural, hypothetical, speculative, suppositional

Antonyms

actual, factual, real

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Examples of theoretical in a Sentence

On a theoretical level, hiring more people seems logical. The idea is purely theoretical at this point. The danger is more than just a theoretical possibility.
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Recent Examples on the Web

And maybe another indication that having a kid is still a very theoretical prospect for me. Alyssa Mastromonaco, Marie Claire, "Alyssa Mastromonaco Explores Her Non-Decision to Not Have Kids," 5 Mar. 2019 The effort also aims to energize conservatives who might otherwise have sat out this November’s elections but now see a solid conservative majority on the nation’s highest court as more than a theoretical prospect. Massimo Calabresi, Time, "With Justice Kennedy Gone, It's Trump's Court Now," 28 June 2018 Ratcliff and Eric Libby, a theoretical biologist at Umeå University in Sweden, proposed 4 years ago that a ratcheting effect took over, driving an inexorable increase in complexity. Elizabeth Pennisi, Science | AAAS, "The momentous transition to multicellular life may not have been so hard after all," 28 June 2018 King has theoretical versatility, but is still figuring out how to harness it. Jeremy Woo, SI.com, "2019 NBA Draft Big Board: Top 60 Prospects," 27 June 2018 Much like Carter’s critics, Eizenstat believes the president erred by holing up in the White House consumed by the impasse while taking even the theoretical threat of military force off the table. Peter Baker, New York Times, "Was Jimmy Carter the Most Underrated President in History?," 5 June 2018 David Limmer, a theoretical chemistry professor at UC Berkeley, said in an interview last year. Brian Resnick, Vox, "The surprising science of why ice is so slippery," 31 Jan. 2019 As Verizon’s recent throttling and upselling of California firefighters showed, this kind of behavior is far from theoretical. Karl Bode, The Verge, "How the new AT&T could bully its way to streaming domination," 18 Dec. 2018 Hans van Leeuwen, a retired professor of theoretical physics who has recently published a mathematical explanation of ice skating, said. Brian Resnick, Vox, "The surprising science of why ice is so slippery," 31 Jan. 2019

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

1601, in the meaning defined at sense 2a

History and Etymology for theoretical

Late Latin theoreticus, from Greek theōrētikos, from theōrein to look at

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Statistics for theoretical

Last Updated

17 Mar 2019

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Time Traveler for theoretical

The first known use of theoretical was in 1601

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More Definitions for theoretical

theoretical

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of theoretical

: relating to what is possible or imagined rather than to what is known to be true or real
: relating to the general principles or ideas of a subject rather than the practical uses of those ideas

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Comments on theoretical

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