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of, relating to, or consisting in ; not practical (distinguished from ).
existing only in ; hypothetical.
given to, forming, or dealing with ; speculative.
Contemporary Examples

Polls in a number of swing states show Romney doing better than Perry in theoretical match-ups against Obama.
Rick Perry’s Swing-Voter Problem Jill Lawrence September 5, 2011

In their hands, conservatism ceased to be a theoretical oddity or academic exercise.
Mitt, Why Not Stand For the 100%? Justin Green September 19, 2012

After all, as a theoretical physicist, Kaku belongs to one of the most toy-obsessed disciplines in all of academic science.
What Will Happen to Our Minds in the Future? Robert Herritt March 1, 2014

Physically, everything happens as if the theoretical zero was really a beginning.
Evangelicals Still Don’t Know What to Do With the Big Bang Karl W. Giberson March 22, 2014

It didn’t really bother me if my future husband (who was only theoretical at the time) would someday disapprove and freak out.
The D.C. Sex Blogger on How She Went From Slut to Housewife Jessica Cutler December 9, 2008

Historical Examples

We are shut up to this conclusion, not by theoretical considerations, but by experience.
The Head Hunters of Northern Luzon From Ifugao to Kalinga Cornelis De Witt Willcox

This must include both the theoretical and the practical work.
Ontario Teachers’ Manuals: Household Management Ministry of Education

Aesthetical judgements can be divided just like theoretical (logical) judgements into empirical and pure.
Kant’s Critique of Judgement Immanuel Kant

But theoretical politics are more practical than practical politics.
What I Saw in America G. K. Chesterton

The actual diagram will vary somewhat from the theoretical, as shown by the shaded lines.
Steam Engines Anonymous

of or based on theory
lacking practical application or actual existence; hypothetical
using or dealing in theory; impractical

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.

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

Of, relating to, or based on theory.

Restricted to theory; not practical.


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  • Antithetic

    of the nature of or involving . directly opposed or contrasted; opposite. Historical Examples While Jacobi stood in an antithetic relation to the Kantian philosophy, Fichte appears as its immediate consequence. A History of Philosophy in Epitome Albert Schwegler From this point of view, there is properly no antithetic of pure reason. The Critique of […]

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