What is a word for something that can be said to be "unproven", but because the context in which any such proof would appear does not yet exist? I can think of contested, but are there any others?

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Hypothetical (in the literal sense) comes to mind.

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  • wisegeek.org/… What is the Difference between a Theory and a Hypothesis? - A hypothesis attempts to answer questions by putting forth a plausible explanation that has yet to be rigorously tested. A theory, on the other hand, has already undergone extensive testing by various scientists and is generally accepted as being an accurate explanation of an observation. – Canis Lupus Dec 30 '13 at 23:03

Well, speaking from an astrophysics perspective, I've used the following to describe phenomena that theoretically or likely exist but have not yet been directly observed: inferred, supposed, hypothesized, assumed.

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I hate to disregard an explicit request for a single word, but I really think you'd be missing a good opportunity to illustrate an important concept if you didn't use:

Black Swan - After Dutch explorer Willem de Vlamingh discovered black swans in Western Australia in 1697,[6] the term metamorphosed to connote that a perceived impossibility might later be disproven.

from Black Swan Theory; Wikipedia

This is no small concept and is "widely" understood:

Since being published in 2007, as of February 2011 has sold close to 3 million copies. It spent 36 weeks on the[2] New York Times Bestseller list list; 17 as hardcover and 19 weeks as paperback. It was published in 32 languages...

The Nobel Prize winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman wrote “The Black Swan changed my view of how the world works” and explains the influence in his 2011 book Thinking, Fast and Slow.

from Black Swan (2007 book); Wikipedia

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  • I've never heard of this. "Black Swan" to me just refers to the ballet movie. Even before the movie came out, "black swan" would've just brought to mind one of the roles in Swan Lake (the role that gives the movie its title). And I'm not even all that much of a ballet nut. – Marthaª Jan 2 '14 at 15:05
  • Black-Swan-the-book-not-the-movie? – Jack Ryan Jan 2 '14 at 15:12

Alleged, claimed or unsubstantiated??

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  • 2
    We truly appreciate your input. We also appreciate links to sources where applicable, especially in Answers. You can help us learn by providing links, even with answers in response to seemingly opinion-based questions. Thanks. :) – anongoodnurse Dec 30 '13 at 23:35

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