If I'm looking for an object which may or may not exist, could I say it exists hypothetically, given the definition of hypothetical?

a supposition or proposed explanation made on the basis of limited evidence as a starting point for further investigation

This seems to mean there must be some evidence that the object exits. However, the object I'm looking for does not have any evidence that it might exist.

Practically, it is possible that it might exist, as it occurred in that past because of human errors...

  • mathematically, the probability of the human error exists so the reason for the object to exist is present, so the probability for existence of the object exist, so there is evidence that the object may exist so mathematically it is hypothetical, I guess
    – pahnin
    Jan 27, 2014 at 8:40
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    You could say this object is potential (it means it could exist but it doesn't (yet).
    – None
    Jan 27, 2014 at 8:49
  • yes, potential is the word I guess
    – pahnin
    Jan 27, 2014 at 8:51
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    Definition of adjective potential Existing in possibility, not in actuality. Capable of being but not yet in existence.
    – None
    Jan 27, 2014 at 9:07
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    Your friend is taking only one definition for potential. Jan 27, 2014 at 9:15

5 Answers 5


You may purport that your object exists.

pur·port·ed adjective -ˈpȯr-təd\ : said to be true or real but not definitely true or real

"The purported one eyed unicorn is said to be found only in the gangha swamps of Tashkent."

Beware though, the verb form carries a strong negative connotation.

purport 1: to have the often specious appearance of being, intending, or claiming (something implied or inferred) ; also : claim 2: intend, purpose

You might be better off using allege/alleging/alleged:

1: asserted to be true or to exist 2: questionably true or of a specified kind : supposed, so-called


I believe the object under discussion is putative (from the Latin for 'thought' but without the connotations of 'assumed').


A hypothesis in science may be completely baseless and incorrect. If it is so, studies will not support it's existence. It doesn't mean it wasn't a hypothesis. Another definition of hypothesis is something taken to be true for the purpose of argument or investigation; an assumption.

Let's use an example of the Loch Ness monster. Nessie is referred to as:

reputed, supposed, anecdotal, speculative, mythical, and alleged.

One of these adjectives, especially speculative, may fit your needs, as you are, from my understanding, speculating on the existence of something.

Other words for your consideration are postulated, proposed, presumed, assumed, potential, or hypothetical.

  • Why not add a definition of at least speculative?
    – bib
    Jan 27, 2014 at 13:03

your object/thing/stuff is assumed.

assumption, assumed

would be something nearly appropriate!

  • 3
    No, that’s exactly what it isn’t. If it’s assumed, it is taken for granted that it does exist, even though there is no evidence for its existence. The asker here is looking for a word that indicates without preference that it may or may not exist. Jan 27, 2014 at 10:42
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    @JanusBahsJacquet: I disagree. If you assume it, it doesn't necessarily follow that it does exist only that you're temporarily ignoring either existence or non-existence for the sake of argument. I'm not saying this is the best answer for the OP, just that it is not as incorrect as you make it.
    – Mitch
    Jan 27, 2014 at 13:50
  • @Mitch, I didn’t say that it follows that it does exist—only that by assuming something, it follows that your point of departure is that it exists. I disagree that you are ignoring both existence and nonexistence if you use ‘assumed’: you are instead presuming existence and ignoring nonexistence for the sake of argument. Jan 27, 2014 at 15:18

As long as something exists as a concept, it exists hypothetically.

The problem with your question is that, in order to define something as an extant object, you need to specify what it is, as an object. Or else you won't know whether it's actually an object or not, thus whether it's extant or not.

In other words, veridical existence presupposes conceptualization. Even the word "object", in and of itself, isn't extant (other than in language - but within that premise, words are incapable of not existing - i.e. a "linguistically non-extant version of object" is impossible).

It ultimately depends on what kind of object we're talking about. An object is simply a perceivable concept of something specific and concrete. A thing which you then define as either extant or non-extant.

So the answer is Mu. There is no "non-extant" version of object.

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