What is the most appropriate verb when talking about making a new hypothesis? E.g.

Lenneburg created the critical period hypothesis.

Lenneburg coined the critical period hypothesis.

Lenneburg came up with the critical period hypothesis.

Lenneburg termed the critical period hypothesis.

...etc. I don't know which sounds the most appropriate.

  • 1
    'coined' is not right. 'termed' is for -naming- the thing not initiating it. 'create' or 'came up' with both work (the latter more informal)
    – Mitch
    May 2, 2014 at 12:50
  • 5
    The ... hypothesis was first put forward by L.
    – rogermue
    May 2, 2014 at 15:09
  • Okay, well what these answers are telling me is that there are several equally valid and varyingly popular constructions, which is reassuring. I don't know which answer to accept though, because they all give useful information.
    – Lou
    May 2, 2014 at 16:20

6 Answers 6


Formulate can be used in this context.

Express (an idea) in a concise or systematic way: the argument is sufficiently clear that it can be formulated mathematically

Formulating hypotesis I add this link just for referene.


  • 1
    Try using "a" instead of "an" in your Ngram.
    – SEL
    May 2, 2014 at 13:08
  • 2
    Still 'formulate' is the most common.
    – user66974
    May 2, 2014 at 13:13

One suitable word is postulate

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

Suggest or assume the existence, fact, or truth of (something) as a basis for reasoning, discussion, or belief [ODO]

Postulate is to suggest a fact as a basis for reasoning or discussion; a hypothesis is a suggestion made as a starting point for further examination. The terms converge.

  • There's not much scope for using the verb 'postulate' anywhere else. It takes a 'synonymous object'. May 2, 2014 at 15:32
  • Is that a bad thing, Edwin?
    – Lou
    May 2, 2014 at 16:18
  • @Leo King It's an interesting thing. I've spent quite some time looking at semantic restrictions on direct objects, and the differentiation of things-looking-like-DO's from true DO's (The piano had a stool / they had a ball / he died a hero / he looked daggers at her / he danced attendance on her / they weighed anchor ...). I can't remember coming across a verb with a 'synonymous' DO. May 2, 2014 at 22:31

Some alternatives culled from Google:

developed, proposed, formulated, advanced, put forward, introduced

Google Ngram suggests "advanced" has been the most common of these until the last 30 years when "put forward" overtook it.

  • 2
    Yes, but bear in mind put forward includes both present and past tense contexts. If you add together advance and advanced that verb is still the front-runner. May 2, 2014 at 13:07
  • As for NGram, it depends on what inputs you use. I used 'formulate, advance, put forward an hypothesis' .. And the results are different!!!
    – user66974
    May 2, 2014 at 13:07
  • @Josh61: My point exactly. But I've no doubt past tense would be more common overall for every different verb. It's just a skew factor that things like put forward and set out cover both tenses at once. May 2, 2014 at 13:10
  • Yes, point taken.
    – Neil W
    May 2, 2014 at 14:31

In addition to what others have mentioned, you can hypothesize a hypothesis.

put (something) forward as a hypothesis.

Here's a sample Ngram comparing with other answers. Note that Google Ngram does not cull from scholarly articles, so it might not capture academic norms and preferences, which likely vary by discipline, too.

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  • Not as catchy as 'I have dreamed a dream'. Cognate objects aren't often used without modification (He slept the sleep of the righteous). And you weren't fair in not choosing 'we hypothesize/d a/the hypothesis' (which predictably flatline) for comparison. May 2, 2014 at 15:35
  • @EdwinAshworth Isn't "we hypothesized" usually followed by the actual hypothesis?
    – SEL
    May 2, 2014 at 20:01
  • 1
    In answers, we're supposed to address OP's question, which here is 'Do you 'create' a hypothesis? ... Lenneburg ____ the critical period hypothesis. (x 4) ... I don't know which sounds the most appropriate.' May 2, 2014 at 22:32
  • @EdwinAshworth Apart from the OPs example, in which case "hypothesize" would not be a suitable verb because of repetition, "hypothesize" still addresses the OPs question, "What is the most appropriate verb when talking about making a new hypothesis?" Instead of "We formulated hypothesis X," I am suggesting "We hypothesized X" as a more succinct alternative. This changes the meaning slightly, but I don't think it falls out of the OPs range. Moreover, "hypothesize" is regularly used in scholarly articles.
    – SEL
    May 2, 2014 at 23:17

Consider "form."

Lenneberg formed the critical period hypothesis.

A "lipid hypothesis was formed" to explain the rapid increase of heart disease.


Alongside 'propose', 'put forward', and possibly 'postulate' and 'formulate' (though I'm not a fan of either of these), you can simply use 'hypothesise'/'hypothesize' as a verb in its own right.

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