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From Latin suppositītius, from the participle stem of suppono.



supposititious (comparative more supposititious, superlative most supposititious)

  1. (obsolete) Spurious; substituted for the genuine, counterfeit; fake.
    • 1600, John Colville, The Palinod of Iohn Coluill, Edinburgh,[1]
      [] the said pretended Testament was supposititious, & contriued by such as meant to defraud both the heires female of the said king Henrie the 8. as well as these of his eldest sister []
    • 1628, William Prynne, The Unlovelinesse of Love-Lockes, London, p. 16,[2]
      But it may bee some will here obiect and say; that the Haire, and Loue-lockes which they weare, are supposititious, false, and counterfeit, and not their owne: therefore they violate no Law of God, nor Nature, since the long Haire they vse, is but borrowed, and aduenticious, their owne being short enough: perchance, but little or none at all.
    • 1771, Oliver Goldsmith, The History of England: From the Earliest Times to the Death of George II, London: T. Davies et al., Volume 4, Chapter 37, p. 28,[3]
      [] the queen was brought to bed of a son, who was baptised by the name of James. This would, if any thing could at that time, have served to establish him on the throne; but so great was the animosity against him, that a story was propagated that the child was supposititious, and brought to the queen’s apartment in a warming-pan.
  2. (obsolete) Imaginary; fictitious, pretended to exist.
    • 1796, Matthew Lewis, The Monk, Folio Society 1985, p. 244:
      His good sense had pointed out to him the artifices of the monks, and the gross absurdity of their miracles, wonders, and supposititious reliques.
    • 1836, Edgar Allan Poe, Review of Joseph Rodman Drake, The Culprit Fay, and other Poems and Fitz-Greene Halleck, Alnwick Castle, with other Poems in Southern Literary Messenger, Volume 2, No. 5, April 1836, pp. 327-328,[4]
      [] we discover in all men a disposition to look with reverence upon superiority, whether real or supposititious.
    • 1890, William Dean Howells, A Hazard of New Fortunes, “Bibliographical,”[5]
      The following story was the first fruit of my New York life when I began to live it after my quarter of a century in Cambridge and Boston, ending in 1889; and I used my own transition to the commercial metropolis in framing the experience which was wholly that of my supposititious literary adventurer.
  3. Supposed or hypothetical.
    • 1854, Charles Dickens, Hard Times, Chapter 2,[6]
      You might hope to get some other nonsensical belief into the head of George Gradgrind, or Augustus Gradgrind, or John Gradgrind, or Joseph Gradgrind (all supposititious, non-existent persons), but into the head of Thomas Gradgrind—no, sir!
    • 1921, Arthur Ransome, The Crisis in Russia, “The Shortage of Things,” New York: Huebsch, p. 18,[7]
      England produces practically no food, but great quantities of coal, steel and manufactured goods. Isolate her absolutely, and she will not only starve, but will stop producing manufactured goods, steel and coal, because those who usually produce these things will be getting nothing for their labor except money which they will be unable to use to buy dinners, because there will be no dinners to buy. That supposititious case is a precise parallel to what has happened in Russia. [Note: The UK edition reads “that suppositious case.”]
    • 1953, Isaac Asimov, Second Foundation (1971 Panther Books Ltd publication), part II: “Search by the Foundation”, chapter 8: ‘Seldon’s Plan’, page 90, ¶¶ 7–8
      “Why this particular problem, Speaker? It obviously has significance other than purely academic.”
      “Thank you, my boy. You are as quick as I had expected. The problem is not supposititious.”


See also[edit]