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[thee-uh-ret-i-kuh l] /ˌθi əˈrɛt ɪ kəl/
of, relating to, or consisting in theory; not practical (distinguished from applied).
existing only in theory; hypothetical.
given to, forming, or dealing with theories; speculative.
Also, theoretic.
Origin of theoretical
1610-20; theoretic (< Late Latin theōrēticus < Greek theōrētikós, equivalent to theōrēt(ós) to be seen (verbid of theōreîn to view) + -ikos -ic) + -al1
Related forms
theoretically, adverb
antitheoretical, adjective
antitheoretically, adverb
nontheoretic, adjective
nontheoretical, adjective
nontheoretically, adverb
untheoretic, adjective
untheoretical, adjective
untheoretically, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for theoretically
  • Sheep and humans are both mammals and the technology used to clone one species could theoretically be applied to the other.
  • Her fans, theoretically, are welcome to take it or leave it.
  • As a result, the water would theoretically remain frozen for eons.
  • So theoretically, an exact replica of a particle can never be made.
  • Planting more cooperative siblings together instead of strangers could theoretically mean better harvests.
  • theoretically, there is no upper boundary to this scale, but scientists believe the upper limit of the scale is about nine.
  • theoretically, to an organism that can detect field intensity and dip angles, the field offers navigational information.
  • We seek an internationally recognized scholar whose work is theoretically informed and methodologically innovative.
  • It may not theoretically have to be this way, but it is, in practice.
  • theoretically you could get that income from the endowment, but that would be eating seed corn.
British Dictionary definitions for theoretically


of or based on theory
lacking practical application or actual existence; hypothetical
using or dealing in theory; impractical
Derived Forms
theoretically, adverb
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for theoretically



1610s, from Late Latin theoreticus "of or pertaining to theory," from Greek theoretikos "contemplative, pertaining to theory" (by Aristotle contrasted to praktikos), from theoretos "that may be seen or considered," from theorein "to consider, look at" (see theory). Related: Theoretically.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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theoretically in Medicine

theoretical the·o·ret·i·cal (thē'ə-rět'ĭ-kəl)

  1. Of, relating to, or based on theory.

  2. Restricted to theory; not practical.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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