My browser's spelling checker say it isn't. Google results showed no authentic sites apart from wiktionary

  • I googled "the hypotheticality" between quotes and got over 2000 hits.
    – CocoPop
    Jul 12 '15 at 12:25
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    @CocoPop this proves nothing, I googled "the hypotheticality" between quotes and got this question as the first result.
    – Terve
    Jul 12 '15 at 12:31
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    Well, I got a list of books on GOOGLE.BOOKS that cite this word in very reliable sources. Maybe you and I don't have the same google, but in my search I read articles about "The Hypotheticality Continuum in Russian," the "hypotheticality of human action" in philosophy, the "hypotheticality of a resumptive protasis" in Arabic, the "hypotheticality of the apodosis" in English poetry, the hypotheticality inherent in Newton's Law, and many more. I think it's safe to say it's a word.
    – CocoPop
    Jul 12 '15 at 12:39
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    It's a regular construction through a productive derivation with a predictable meaning; I don't see why any dictionary would feel constrained to list it. Jul 12 '15 at 13:48
  • @StoneyB- but I can produce both hypotheticality and hypotheticalness. Ngrams say the former is much more prevalent but it also shows a bump in 1870’s where the opposite appears to be true. I’m on my phone so I didn’t investigate further.
    – Jim
    Jul 12 '15 at 16:25

Words get into dictionaries, when the dictionary editors find evidence of extensive usage over time. See this Ask the editor video from MW or this explanation by Kory Stamper delivered in a talk show for a story about that.

So, is the word " hypotheticality" being used? (Oh, look, my browser just underlined it as incorrect as well).

Google Books gave 432 results for this word. I haven't checked each and every one of those for false positives and untrustworthy publishers, but here is an example that is good:

Like Reporting, Hypotheticality is based on the notion of authorial detachment, but here the writer detaches him/herself from the world of actuality through the creation of a hypothetical world. Hypotheticality presupposes that the writer is aware of the gap between his/her conceptual world and that of the reader and by means of this device the writer is able to set up a world where there are only two countries, two linguistic theories in order to confine him/herself to those aspects of a situation that will enable him/her to derive a generalization.

from: Advances in Written Text Analysis edited by Malcolm Coulthard, Routledge, 2002.

Another one:

These alternatives to the directly experienced reality define, respectively, four dimensions of psychological distances - temporal distance, spatial distance, social distance and hypotheticality.

from: Social Psychology: Handbook of Basic Principles edited by Arie W. Kruglanski, Edward Tory Higgins, Guilford Press, 2007

There is another one (found through 'ordinary' Google):

Aspects of the meaning of if … then for older preschoolers: Hypotheticality, entailment, and suppositional processes

This is the title of a scientific article from: Cognitive Development

Volume 7, Issue 2, April–June 1992, Pages 189–212

Psychology isn't my field, but this journal was published by Elsevier, which is a respected publisher for scientific journals.

In the end this Google Ngram shows that the word has appeared here and there since the 30s, but it gained popularity (and if I see correctly the usage tripled) since 1990.

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I expected to find it in a dictionary and checked ODO, MW, CDO, LDOCE, AHD, Collins and Macmillan - and found nothing (or I found 'hypothetical' but not 'hypotheticality').

So, is it a word? Based on the fact that it is being used in print, published by reputable sources, I'd say yes. The fact that it is formed in a way nouns are derived from adjectives (as StoneyB noted in his comment) by adding the suffix -ity to the adjective hypothetical, which you will find in many dictionaries, only strengthens this conclusion.

Why isn't it in dictionaries yet? I'm not sure, but this process takes time. If you (and others) use it and keep using it, it just might make it into a dictionary some day.

  • In the quote you chose, "Hypotheticality" is used capitalised. If it's also defined earlier in the same work, then this indicates that it's being used as jargon. Jargon words are still words, and can still get into dictionaries, but as I understand it one of the things lexicographers look for is the use of a word without requiring definition, that is to say the expectation of the writer is that it will communicate something to the reader. This show it's not just a collection of letters being used to name a concept for brevity, for the duration of one work. Jul 12 '15 at 15:52
  • Furthermore, I'm not sure how to answer the question "is hypotheticality a word?" in the case where it turns out the term is always capitalised. It's either "yes", "no but there's a very similar word", or "yes but you misspelled it" ;-) Jul 12 '15 at 15:57
  • @SteveJessop Thanks, I edited my answer. I did wander whether the fact that 'Hypotheticality' is capitalised in my first example could be a counter argument, but to be honest, I was in a bit of a hurry, and didn't have time to go through other options. As for the definition - I guess it is a somewhat new technical term, so I'd expect a lot of works which use it to include a definition. Maybe this was the case with the word 'ribosome' e.g., before the 60s. An aside: check Araucaria's answer; it has examples better than mine.
    – Lucky
    Jul 12 '15 at 22:23

When talking about conditionals in linguistics and philosophy this word is very commonly used (A conditional is a special type of sentence, typically beginning with if). I see this word on a daily basis in my academic life, and use it too.

Here is a sample of 1,400 odd scholarly articles and books from Googlescholar which use the word hypotheticality.


Yes it is. It is a noun that describing the state of being hypothetical or something of a hypothetical nature. Sources: Your Dictionary

  • @MagikCow en.wiktionary.org/wiki/hypotheticality is the actual source - the one you pointed out only calls on "English Wiktionary" as the source.
    – user21321
    Jul 12 '15 at 18:15
  • It's refreshing to see people who don't get defensive at the first well-intended remark, but actually make the effort to edit their post :-). I don't know if you had the chance to have a look at meta, but you might find this list of resources useful for finding references in the future.
    – Lucky
    Jul 12 '15 at 21:57

Yes, it is a noun.

Plural form: hypotheticalities

(uncountable) The state or property of being hypothetical.

(countable) Something of hypothetical nature.

Source: Wiktionary: hypotheticality

  • 1
    Well, simply copying the Wiktionary entry when OP has already given the link in the question doesn't make a good answer IMHO.
    – Stephie
    Jul 12 '15 at 15:08
  • Well, when I read a question there wasn't a link to the Wiktionary or it's just my bad and I didn't see it. Jul 12 '15 at 15:53
  • The question wasn't edited (I can say this because SE keeps the history of every question and there is none), so you didn't read carefully.
    – Stephie
    Jul 12 '15 at 16:10
  • @Stephie: note that edits made within five minutes of the original post are not recorded in the history. Jul 13 '15 at 7:25
  • @HarryJohnston I haven't edited the question at all and there is one hour gap between his answer and my question
    – Terve
    Jul 13 '15 at 9:32

It is a new age word like "functionality, usability, drivability, drinkability, playability" and others. In my world it is newspeak, a made up word to eliminate the use of others. Functionality = describing the functions of an item and avoids the descriptions. Usablity = an item is usable. One can merely add "ability" to the end of any word and create a new one. Most people will adopt it as an actual word as it sounds new age and hip. Here's an example..."That trail looks to be an easy walk, it has walkability for most anyone".

  • 1
    Welcome to the site. Perhaps people don't make up new words because they sound "hip" (and most certainly not because they are "new age"), but because the english language is rather flexible and new words are coined to express things better or more concise that with a long sentence?
    – Stephie
    Jul 12 '15 at 22:24

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