- ( UK ) IPA: /ˈθɪəɹi/
- Rhymes: -ɪəri
- ( obsolete ) Mental conception; reflection, consideration. [16th-18th c.]
- ( sciences ) A coherent statement or set of ideas that explains observed facts or phenomena, or which sets out the laws and principles of something known or observed; a hypothesis confirmed by observation, experiment etc. [from 17th c.]
- 2002, Duncan Steel, The Guardian, 23 May 2002:
- 2003, Bill Bryson, A Short History of Nearly Everything, BCA, p. 118:
- ( uncountable ) The underlying principles or methods of a given technical skill, art etc., as opposed to its practice. [from 17th c.]
- ( mathematics ) A field of study attempting to exhaustively describe a particular class of constructs. [from 18th c.]
- A hypothesis or conjecture. [from 18th c.]
- 1999, Wes DeMott, Vapors:
- 2003, Sean Coughlan, The Guardian, 21 Jun 2003:
- ( countable ) ( logic ) A set of axioms together with all statements derivable from them. Equivalently, a formal language plus a set of axioms ( from which can then be derived theorems ) .
- See also Wikisaurus:supposition
- acoustic theory
- algorithmic information theory
- antenna theory
- atomic theory
- catastrophe theory
- category theory
- cell theory
- chaos theory
- circuit theory
- complexity theory
- computation theory
- control theory
- critical theory
- decision theory
- domino theory
- extreme value theory
- game theory
- giant impact theory
- graph theory
- group theory
- in theory
- information theory
- kinetic theory of gases
- knot theory
- literary theory
- music theory
- number theory
- phlogiston theory
From Late Latin theōria, from Ancient Greek θεωρία ( theōria, “contemplation, speculation, a looking at, things looked at” ), from θεωρέω ( theōreō, “I look at, view, consider, examine” ), from θεωρός ( theōros, “spectator” ), from θέα ( thea, “a view” ) + ὁράω ( horaō, “I see,look” ) .
In scientific discourse, the sense “unproven conjecture” is discouraged ( with hypothesis or conjecture preferred ), due to unintentional ambiguity and intentional equivocation with the sense “well-developed statement or structure” .
Explanation of theory by Wordnet Dictionary
- 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
- the architect has a theory that more is less
- they killed him on the theory that dead men tell no tales
- Theory n.; pl. Theories [F. théorie, L. theoria, Gr. a beholding, spectacle, contemplation, speculation, fr. a spectator, to see, view. See Theater.]
1. A doctrine, or scheme of things, which terminates in speculation or contemplation, without a view to practice; hypothesis; speculation.
☞ “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, Binary, etc.
Syn. -- Hypothesis, speculation. -- 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.
Definition of theory by GCIDE Dictionary