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From Ancient Greek ὑποθετικός (hupothetikós).


  • IPA(key): /ˌhaɪpəˈθɛtɪkl/
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hypothetical (comparative more hypothetical, superlative most hypothetical)

  1. Based upon a hypothesis; conjectural
    • 1882, Henry John Roby, chapter XVIII, in A Latin grammar for schools[1], London: MacMillan and Co., Book IV : Syntax or use of Inflexional Forms, page 258:
      Such a subjunctive as appears in the principal clause (i.e. the apodosis) of a conditional sentence may be called a hypothetical subjunctive. An hypothetical subjunctive expresses an action1 which, while its non-occurrence is implied, is yet supposed to occur, if some other action occur.
    • 2006, ACLU v. NSA (District Court opinion):
      To establish standing under Article III, a plaintiff must satisfy the following three requirements: (1) "the plaintiff must have suffered an injury in fact - an invasion of a legally protected interest which is (a) concrete and particularized, and (b) actual or imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical"; ...
  2. (philosophy) conditional; contingent upon some hypothesis/antecedent


Derived terms[edit]



hypothetical (plural hypotheticals)

  1. A possible or hypothetical situation or proposition
    These hypotheticals serve no purpose until we have more information.
    • 2022 October 2, Edward Helmore, quoting David Petraeus, “Petraeus: US would destroy Russia’s troops if Putin uses nuclear weapons in Ukraine”, in The Guardian[2]:
      He told ABC News: “Just to give you a hypothetical, we would respond by leading a Nato – a collective – effort that would take out every Russian conventional force that we can see and identify on the battlefield in Ukraine and also in Crimea and every ship in the Black sea.”

Related terms[edit]