March 01, 2012
hypothetical (adjective)
\hy-puh-THET-ih-kul\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
1 : involving a hypothesis or the making of assumptions : assumed2 : imagined for purposes of example
How do you use it?
She described a hypothetical situation to clarify her point.
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Which language do you think "hypothetical" has its origins in?

"Hypothetical" traces to the Greek words "hypo" meaning "under" and "tithenai" meaning "to put." Greek is the source of many English words, and both "hypo" and "tithenai" have many descendents in English. The "hypo" family includes "hypochondria" (the abnormal concern about one's health), "hypocrisy" (a pretending to be what one is not or to believe what one does not), and "hypotenuse" (the side opposite the right angle of a right triangle). The "tithenai" side of the family is also well-represented by a group of words including "thesis" (a statement put forth for discussion or proof), "prosthesis" (an artificial device that replaces a missing part of the body), and "synthesis" (the combination of parts or elements so as to form a whole). Like "hypothetical," the word "hypothesis" traces to both "hypo" and "tithenai."
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