2. [syn: hypothesis, possibility, theory]
3. a belief that can guide behavior;
- Example: "the architect has a theory that more is less"
- Example: "they killed him on the theory that dead men tell no tales"
The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Theory \The"o*ry\, n.; pl. Theories. [F. th['e]orie, L.
theoria, Gr. ? a beholding, spectacle, contemplation,
speculation, fr. ? a spectator, ? to see, view. See
1. A doctrine, or scheme of things, which terminates in
speculation or contemplation, without a view to practice;
Note: "This word is employed by English writers in a very
loose and improper sense. It is with them usually
convertible into hypothesis, and hypothesis is commonly
used as another term for conjecture. The terms theory
and theoretical are properly used in opposition to the
terms practice and practical. In this sense, they were
exclusively employed by the ancients; and in this
sense, they are almost exclusively employed by the
Continental philosophers." --Sir W. Hamilton.
2. An exposition of the general or abstract principles of any
science; as, the theory of music.
3. The science, as distinguished from the art; as, the theory
and practice of medicine.
4. The philosophical explanation of phenomena, either
physical or moral; as, Lavoisier's theory of combustion;
Adam Smith's theory of moral sentiments.
Atomic theory, Binary theory, etc. See under Atomic,
Syn: Hypothesis, speculation.
Usage: Theory, Hypothesis. A theory is a scheme of the
relations subsisting between the parts of a systematic
whole; an hypothesis is a tentative conjecture
respecting a cause of phenomena.
[1913 Webster] Theosoph
WordNet (r) 3.0 (2006):
n 1: a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the
natural world; an organized system of accepted knowledge
that applies in a variety of circumstances to explain a
specific set of phenomena; "theories can incorporate facts
and laws and tested hypotheses"; "true in fact and theory"
2: a tentative insight into the natural world; a concept that is
not yet verified but that if true would explain certain facts
or phenomena; "a scientific hypothesis that survives
experimental testing becomes a scientific theory"; "he
proposed a fresh theory of alkalis that later was accepted in
chemical practices" [syn: hypothesis, possibility,
3: a belief that can guide behavior; "the architect has a theory
that more is less"; "they killed him on the theory that dead
men tell no tales"
Moby Thesaurus II by Grady Ward, 1.0:
92 Moby Thesaurus words for "theory":
apprehension, assumption, attitude, base, basis, body of theory,
climate of opinion, common belief, community sentiment, conceit,
concept, conception, conclusion, conjecture, consensus gentium,
consideration, estimate, estimation, ethos, explanation, eye,
fancy, feeling, general belief, grounds, guess, guesswork,
harmonics, harmony, hunch, hypothesis, idea, image, imago,
impression, intellectual object, judgment, lights, melodics,
memory-trace, mental image, mental impression, mind, music,
music theory, musicality, musicography, musicology, mystique,
notion, observation, opinion, perception, perhaps,
personal judgment, point of view, popular belief, position,
posture, premise, presentiment, presumption, prevailing belief,
public belief, public opinion, reaction, recept, reflection,
representation, rhythmics, sentiment, sight, speculation, stance,
supposal, suppose, supposition, surmise, suspicion,
tentative explanation, theoretical structure, there, thinking,
thither, thitherward, thought, understanding, unified theory, view,
way of thinking, yon, yonder
The Jargon File (version 4.4.7, 29 Dec 2003):
The consensus, idea, plan, story, or set of rules that is currently being
used to inform a behavior. This usage is a generalization and (deliberate)
abuse of the technical meaning. ?What's the theory on fixing this TECO
loss?? ?What's the theory on dinner tonight?? (?Chinatown, I guess.?) ?
What's the current theory on letting lusers on during the day?? ?The theory
behind this change is to fix the following well-known screw....?
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing (30 December 2018):
The consensus, idea, plan, story, or set of rules that is
currently being used to inform a behaviour. This usage is a
generalisation and (deliberate) abuse of the technical
meaning. "What's the theory on fixing this TECO loss?"
"What's the theory on dinner tonight?" ("Chinatown, I
guess.") "What's the current theory on letting lusers on
during the day?" "The theory behind this change is to fix the
following well-known screw...."