"You canker blossom!" 3 Shakespearean Insults


[koun-ter-fak-choo-uh l] /ˌkaʊn tərˈfæk tʃu əl/
noun, Logic.
a conditional statement the first clause of which expresses something contrary to fact, as “If I had known.”.
Origin of counterfactual
1945-50; counter- + factual
Related forms
counterfact, noun
counterfactually, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for counterfactual
  • He studies self-control, decision-making, and counterfactual reasoning.
  • With so many variables at play, it is a difficult counterfactual to entertain.
  • But historians are trained not to engage in counterfactual thinking.
  • The notion that everyone has a single coherent overarching viewpoint on the world strikes me as counterfactual and unreasonable.
  • counterfactual claims require extraordinary evidence to overcome the established scientific theory.
  • One of the things that makes it easy to make such counterfactual arguments is that there are often studies to back them up.
  • If you're in academia, it's called counterfactual history.
  • Playing out such counterfactual premises offers unique rewards.
  • As with any counterfactual, an answer is difficult to come by.
  • The free-trade counterfactual constructed above shows that only low-cost firms supply the market.
British Dictionary definitions for counterfactual


expressing what has not happened but could, would, or might under differing conditions
a conditional statement in which the first clause is a past tense subjunctive statement expressing something contrary to fact, as in: if she had hurried she would have caught the bus
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for counterfactual

1946, from counter- + factual.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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