Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search


English Wikipedia has an article on:


counter- +‎ factual


  • (Canada) IPA(key): /ˌkaʊntɚˈfæktʃuəl/
  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˌkaʊn.tə(ɹ)ˈfæk.tʃu.əl/
  • (file)



  1. Contrary to the facts; untrue.
    • 2014 September 15, Martin Gayford, “There's more to Ming than a vase [print version: 16 August 2014, pp. R6–R7]”, in The Daily Telegraph (Review)[1]:
      What would have happened if those great Chinese voyages [by Zheng He] had continued? It's one of those questions in counter-factual history about which it is impossible to be sure.
  2. Of or in comparison to a hypothetical state of the world.



counterfactual (plural counterfactuals)

  1. A claim, hypothesis, or other belief that is contrary to the facts.
  2. A hypothetical state of the world, used to assess the impact of an action.
    • 2015, Lee Drutman, "Here's the real reason we don't have gun reform", Vox
      The implicit counterfactual — that these members would support gun control if not for the $1,000 they received from the NRA — seems unlikely to me.
  3. (philosophy) A conditional statement in which the conditional clause is false, as "If I had arrived on time . . .".[1][2]
    • 1952, B. J. Diggs, "VI.—Counterfactual Conditionals," Mind, vol. 61, no. 244, page 513:
      In recent years there has been increasing discussion of the "problem of counterfactuals". One way of formulating this problem is as follows: "What is meant when one asserts a conditional statement, the antecedent of which is contrary to fact?"

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "counterfactual" in A Dictionary of Philosophical Terms and Names (Garth Kemerling, 1997-2002)
  2. ^ Random House Webster's Unabridged Electronic Dictionary (1987-1996)