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Is there any word that can be used to describe an incident or event that may have taken place but people are not sure if that event actually took place because there is a lack of comprehensive evidence.

For example many people believe that the Roswell Incident is actually true, however others believe that such an incident did not take place.

Another example is an event from an Eastern religion called Mahabharat that is considered to be true by many people, however others differ suggesting that there is no conclusive evidence to suggest that this event actually took place.

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I guess this could be a Schrödinger's event? – MonkeyZeus Mar 7 at 14:10
up vote 12 down vote accepted

purported - said to be true or real but not definitely true or real

If things are more certain, you can bump the status of a purported event up to putative:

putative - generally believed to be something

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Consider alleged

Represented as existing or as being as described but not so proved; supposed: an alleged conspiracy; an alleged traitor; an alleged victim of a crime.

American Heritage Dictionary

Similarly claimed

to say that something is ​true or is a ​fact, ​although you cannot ​prove it and other ​people might not ​believe it

Cambridge Dictionaries Online


  • supposed
  • declared
  • assumed
  • so-called
  • apparent
  • rumoured
  • stated
  • described
  • asserted
  • presumed
  • affirmed
  • professed
  • reputed
  • hypothetical
  • averred
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+1 for the "supposed" suggestion. I've heard that used many times. – einpoklum Mar 7 at 0:33

In addition to stevesilva's suggests, such an event could be termed rumored or legendary.

You could also use the term conspiracy theory if you're discussing something in the political arena, especially something that may be associated with foul play.

For example, many people have associated UFO's with military experiments and exercises.

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Nice attempt to use legendary in an answer... :-) – einpoklum Mar 7 at 0:34
Legendary can also be used to mean famous, however, which would be opposite the desired meaning. – Nate Eldredge Mar 7 at 5:43

Apocryphal would be a good way to describe the alien landing at Roswell.

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no no no!!! Brummie, "apocryphal" simply means you do not know the author. It is quite incorrect, when folks use it to mean "may be legendary". – Joe Blow Mar 7 at 13:20
the word simply comes from "apocrypha" in jewish religious writing - it simply means nothing more than "margin note, by unknown writer". the word just means "origin unknown" or "author unknown". – Joe Blow Mar 7 at 13:21
Joe, the origin is certainly from the Apocrypha but the word carries a meaning beyond text attribution. Here is a quote from Fanny Hill: "Charles, already dispos'd by the evidence of his senses to think my pretences to virginity not entirely apocryphal, smothers me with kisses, begs me, in the name of love, to have a little patience, and that he will be as tender of hurting me as he would be of himself." – BrummiePete Mar 7 at 13:51
Hi Brumm - that author used it incorrectly, as do many people. It's a bit like "decimate", you know what I mean? – Joe Blow Mar 7 at 13:58
The misuse of decimate does irritate me to a spectacular degree, I admit. It's hard to decide at what point we accept a drift (or in this case, expansion) of the use of a word as a new meaning. Wiktionary, for example, gives this as a third definition: "Of dubious veracity; of questionable accuracy or truthfulness; anecdotal or in the nature of an urban legend." whereas some sources do not cite it at all. Thankfully, it's afternoon here, so the adventures of Miss Hill seem a little more appropriate. – BrummiePete Mar 7 at 14:17

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