These phrases have the same meaning:

an existing X / X is existing / X exists

As do these:

a possible X / X is possible / X [sought word]

Is there a verb that corresponds to 'exists', but has the meaning 'is possible'? I would prefer a widely recognised word if one does exist, but will accept neologisms too.

In other words (suggested edit):

verb-ify "[sought word]: is possible" in the vein of "exists: is existing"


To illustrate: (1) I went to a store and bought milk, or instead (2) I went to a concert (and did not buy milk). In fact: I went to a concert. (1) is merely possible, (2) is possible AND happened. Both have is-ness in a phase space, occupy a place there, but (2) ALSO corresponds to a dynamical history and so to a physical space.

(2) [sought word]-s AND exists. It is (selected) from (ex) it (nature). (1) [sought word]-s merely; it is present in a place (pos) and allows (ibil) an operation on it, e.g., taking a subset and this subset is nature (all that is).

To be possible means, translated, to be present in a place in a way that allows it to be selected. What exists is selected from this where this is that place, and by the way, is possible (it was in this). This exists is what we observe, it being (in general?) AND being selected.

No short verb can be formed from pos and ibil. For possibil is the original spelling of possible, I suspect. Either pos and ibil with other suffixes (e.g., posit, able) mean something different in the english language.

A) potentialiates (suggested by JB) Problem: what is potential exists (in sense of being selected from the phase space). Merely it exists in one form but can be further selected to also exist in another form. For example, a further excitation of a field or potential is a particle. Both exist. The field is there, in nature, like the particle. It exists, and is possible but not merely possible.

B) avails (suggested by SF). This suggests being present somewhere in a place. This place is not completely isolated off (unlike what is impossible, which also resides in a phase space of all impossibles, but nothing from that list ever interacts with what exists, due to its isolation; we say it's impossible, namely, what is present in that list is not given to be selected into existence.) What is available or avails here allows something done to it: such as have a subset extracted from this.

Problem? It suggests purpose, while "is possible" does not. Possibility of a thing is observer independent (and so is its existence).

Solution? We interpret the purposive aspect in a non teleological way. If nothing was possible then nothing would exist, and if nothing exists than nothing is possible after all, everything is impossible, including this impossibility. Something is possible therefore and something does exist. Possibility realizes a purpose merely in allowing existence to take place, no more no less, which is merely a universal consistency.

Maybe we are justified so in using "X avails" in this universal sense as a verb corresponding, in its effects, to "X is possible"?

  • curiousdannii Yes. But I would argue the complexity is justified. It's a pragmatic reason actually. Whatever word is used is going to appear a great many times in any discussion of ontological position. – Gottfried William Sep 26 '14 at 8:46
  • Well speaking as someone who rejected a suggested edit because it was too radical, (although it was clearer) I would strongly suggest that the OP trims, and improves the formating of his answer. I haven't a clue what the question is about. And judging by the downvotes (not mine) I'm not alone. – Mari-Lou A Sep 26 '14 at 8:49
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    I'm happy I could help you :) If you want to edit it further go ahead of course, but don't make it too long again. – curiousdannii Sep 26 '14 at 9:03
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    Why would anyone downvote this question? It's a great question! – Fattie Sep 26 '14 at 9:17
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    You ask to verb "[sought word]: is possible" in the vein of "exists: is existing" (a better-framed question) – SrJoven Sep 26 '14 at 12:48

The nearest I found is equivalent to "be possible to be efficient/sufficient to achieve given goal." In many contexts it will be equivalent with "be possible".


(intransitive) To be of use or advantage; to answer or serve the purpose; to have strength, force, or efficacy sufficient to accomplish the object.

The plea in court must avail.
This scheme will not avail.
Medicines will not avail to halt the disease.

Say, the opportunity for the final move avails.

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  • I like the shortness and it suggests that the subject of the verb satisfies the purpose which the purpose is to fill a place in phase space as opposed to not being in it at all (which is the case with something impossible). On the other hand, it suggests purpose. But whose purpose? Possibility of a thing is observer independent (and so is what is possible and also exists), so the meaning seems to be slightly changed. What do you think? – Gottfried William Sep 26 '14 at 10:08
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    @GuidoJorg: I don't think a verb for generic, general "is possible" exists. Most verbs apply to things that exist, and only compound constructs go with ones that don't. Like, there's no inexists, only doesn't exist or is inexistent. – SF. Sep 26 '14 at 11:22
  • Actually, the more I think about it, the more I think avails works best. Merely the purpose aspect has to indicated to be downplayed in text where it is used (unless of course it is used in the context of Royce / Blanshard theory of ideas as partially realized goals). I will post my reasoning why avails works more or less in most context in the question post itself. – Gottfried William Sep 26 '14 at 11:41
  • Avails is impossibly, incredibly, spectacularly wrong. It just means "avails". It is a simple, well-known word. It means .. "avails". It has, basically, absolutely no connection, in any way, to what is under discussion :-) Heh!! – Fattie Sep 26 '14 at 13:09
  • @Joe: uh... that's a little circular definition there. In the given variant it's near to "makes itself available and useful", and can be used in relation to an opportunity, a tactic, etc. Something that was impossible (as in "makes no sense to try because it's bound to fail") suddenly becomes possible ("taking it up may lead to victory"). I agree the scope is limited and you won't say "failure avails". But in some specific contexts (and for specific meanings of "possible") it works. – SF. Sep 26 '14 at 13:30

Consider the following:


pos from positio (place) ibilis (able) is translated as place-able (adjective).


im (not) pos (place) ibilis (able) is translated as not-place-able (adjective).


ex (from) iste (this) is translated as emerge (from this) => exist => emerges => exists (verb) = literally *from-this-s"

Presumably, this is that place where something is put if it's possible, because what exists is intersection, of an incomplete cover of that place with that place.

inists: (my solution based on logic of how exists is related to possible)

in (inside) iste (this), not to be confused with insists (in siste = in something that is standing), is translated as *present" (in this) => inist => presents = inists = literally "in-this-s"

Presumably, again, this is that place where something is put if it's possible.

So: "N inists and exists. M does not exist; it merely inists."

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  • Interestingly enough in some other languages a short verb form of "is possible" exists. In russian (X возможно = X is possible, compared to X существует = X exists) there is such a thing; but not in greek. – Gottfried William Sep 26 '14 at 17:59
  • The problem with 'insists' is that it's a valid English word with an entirely different meaning: persisting in opinion or request despite opposition. "I know there's a lot of work, but you're sick and I insist you stay home and cure yourself." or "he insists he was never there, despite six witnesses testifying to the contrary." – SF. Sep 26 '14 at 18:29
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    Not "insists" (in siste). I mean "inists" (in iste), similar to "exists" (ex iste). There is no such verb. As for insist, that relies on another verb and has different meaning : in a stand. – Gottfried William Sep 26 '14 at 18:41
  • Hi SF, read again, the word is INISTS. – Fattie Sep 27 '14 at 7:59
  • Hey Guido -- actually, I think this is a great suggestion. If I was you, I'd use it! (You'll soon be up there w/ Richard Dawkines, "meme" etc! :) ) Great stuff! – Fattie Sep 27 '14 at 8:00

For the position "???" I believe you mean:

"possibly exists"

Is that correct?

If you had to invent a term, what about possexists?

I also suggest potentialiates. ("Potential" made in to a verb.)

taking a cue from "potential field" and similar subjects in quantum physics.

(There is a danger though, that since it is a matter of philosophy you may distinguish between potentially existing and possibly existing!!)

Footnote - earlier the word "posits" was discussed. That simply means "make a suggestion" or "let's assume for the sake of discussion...", so posit-like words would be confusing.

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  • 1) Yes I agree : X is possible = X possibly exists. If nothing exists then nothing is possible, yes. Of course cannot be impossible for the impossibility of everything would be impossible too. Something exists therefore something is possible by definition. 2) Actually, posit as in to posit would be close to the idea of possible versus existent, in the latin origin. See my reasoning in the EDIT. – Gottfried William Sep 26 '14 at 7:04
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    Ciao Guido, "posit" just means "suggest", or "let's discuss something assuming that X___". Note that this has no connection at all to existential matters. Indeed, you could posit "something does exist" or you could posit "something does not exist". – Fattie Sep 26 '14 at 7:36
  • Argument accepted. Posists is out of the running. – Gottfried William Sep 26 '14 at 8:55
  • (Avails is not relevant.) Sorry I couldn't really think of anything!! – Fattie Sep 26 '14 at 13:11
  • I just thought of another one : see my answer below – Gottfried William Sep 26 '14 at 16:47

Because realise (literally: make real, instantiate) is now normally used figuratively to mean become aware of, it's probably better today to use...

Make a reality of
he had actualized his dream and achieved the world record

I can understand that in certain contexts you might say...

1: X is possible, and [in fact] X exists

...but I can't see why anyone would ever want to say...

2: X exists, and [in fact] X is possible

...which seems to be the meaning OP wants encapsulated in a single intransitive verb. In my #2 there, the secondary statement X is possible is an inherent entailment of the verb to exist, so there's no reason why we should have a different verb to describe it.

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  • No, I think you misunderstood me. Meaning (2) is redundant of course. I merely wanted to be able to say : X inists and exists. (As in "X is possible AND exists.") Other times, when X does not exists, but entails no contradiction, I wanted to be able to say "X merely inists". To introduce some variety instead of saying always X is possible ... X is possible ... X is possible. Exist (ex iste, from ex istere) has for some reason many more forms and synonyms than possible, apparently purely historically. That was the original problem (now solved in two different ways perhaps?) – Gottfried William Sep 27 '14 at 16:13
  • @Guido: oic. You just want a one-word intransitive verb meaning to be capable of existing with no particular implication as to whether the subject does in fact exist. But there's a bit of a logic problem in postulating the existence of such a verb. If a theist tells me "God exists", at least from his point of view there's a meaningful grammatical subject for the verb. I can't easily get my head around the logical implications of God is in principle capable of existing, but in fact [He/It] "chooses" not to. – FumbleFingers Sep 27 '14 at 16:53
  • I am not sure what the example of God has to do with the question? There is the famous issue discussed by Parmenide, namely, the two ontologically significant but distinguishable senses of being that result from talking about things that exist as being selected from a state space and talking about being in the state space. The one entails the other, the second is not sufficient for the first. In modern logic, we just mean possible = consistent (but I would not say "X consists" (or can I?). – Gottfried William Sep 27 '14 at 17:03
  • You see, consistency by itself does not imply existence : one can be a consistent liar, for instance. Or a theory can be consistently wrong, in the sense that it does not correspond to what exists but lacks internal contradiction and can be taken literally. All the same consistency is entailed by existence, hence suggests a broader class or order of labels. We call this state space the set of all possibles. Hence avails is also related to possibility, in the sense of being useful as a partial explanation of how something exist : that first of all it is consistent. – Gottfried William Sep 27 '14 at 17:17
  • I chose "God" because natural language allows us to say things like "God does not exist" without really "instantiating" the subject of the verb. But if we assume some more "active" intransitive verb can be used there (God "inists") that kinda forces the implication that God does in fact exist simply in order to fulfil the syntactic role of a subject relative to the associated verb. – FumbleFingers Sep 27 '14 at 17:20

Happens. (or occurs.) Really what I mean to say is

"X happens sometimes", indicating that X can possibly happen.

Instead though, to make a one word phrase, I'll put it as 'X happens'. You can understand how this works with this example, using 'happens' as an answer to a question. The 'sometimes' here is implied.

Q: "Is this scenario ever possible?", A: "Yes, it happens."


It would appear that from the question, the OP is looking for a verb that indicates something can happen. When something is possible, it can happen. The verb form would be 'happens'. This is not to be confused with a present tense term that something is happening, as in

"After that occurs, this happens."

Rather it would be to inform us that something may possibly happen, not that it's currently happening.

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