I am currently translating into English an academic article discussing some recently-proposed hypotheses for deciphering certain ancient steles. Those hypotheses include the so-called "Greek hypothesis", "Celtic hypothesis" etc. As the word "hypothesis" keeps appearing over and over in my current draft, I am looking for some synonym to break this monotony. The French original uses the word "piste" meaning "track,trail,lead" tempting me to use one of these, except that I never saw those words used in that figurative sense in English. Any quotes coming to your mind ?

Some example sentences :

The Greek [synonym here] explains those similarities better than the Celtic [synonym here].

Let us now explore another aspect of this Greek [synonym here].

  • Please provide a couple of example sentences. It would be easier to come up with relevant options that way. Dec 27, 2015 at 15:21
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    Side note. Isn't possible hypothesis a tautology? As far I can see, a hypothesis is, by its very definition, a statement that's possible and yet not certain to be true. Dec 27, 2015 at 18:16

2 Answers 2


Although a layman may treat the terms suggested in another answer as interchangeable, they are not totally so. About Education has an article explaining that more precise definitions are demanded in scientific registers:

Words have precise meanings in science. For example, 'theory', 'law', and 'hypothesis' don't all mean the same thing. Outside of science, you might say something is 'just a theory', meaning it's supposition that may or may not be true. In science, a theory is an explanation that generally is accepted to be true. Here's a closer look at these important ... terms.

A hypothesis is an educated guess, based on observation.

It's a prediction of cause and effect. Usually, a hypothesis can be supported or refuted through experimentation or more observation. A hypothesis can be disproven, but not proven to be true.

A scientific theory summarizes a hypothesis or group of hypotheses that have been supported with repeated testing.

A theory is valid as long as there is no evidence to dispute it. Therefore, theories can be disproven.

'Assumption' would not normally be used to identify a hypothesis of major significance, and '[educated] guess' never.

'Conjecture' and 'postulate' are closer to 'hypothesis', but (and even scientific usage is not as precise as scientists might like to imagine) the order conjecture ...... postulate ... hypothesis probably indicates increasing confidence in the truth of the statement.

And it would be a mistake to break up set compounds such as 'Greek hypothesis', 'Riemann hypothesis', 'Goldbach's conjecture', 'Twin prime conjecture'.


There are a lot of words actually. Some are

  • theory

  • conjecture

  • postulate

  • assumption

All are synonymous to hypothesis and mean

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


  • Looks quite satisfying to me, but as usual I'll wait a little bit before accepting this answer in case a better proposal comes up. Dec 27, 2015 at 15:32
  • Thanks for considering to accept. Just in case you are unaware, you will be able to "unaccept" an(already accepted) answer, if you find an answer that is more appropriate to your context.
    – BiscuitBoy
    Dec 27, 2015 at 15:38
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    @EwanDelanoy I'm not familiar with the field of deciphering old texts, but in my field, Economics, postulate and assumption are not interchangeable with hypothesis: they are statements taken as true as the basis for a hypothesis or theory. Theory is loosely used as hypothesis, but is usually more complex. Conjecture is not a technical term, and of the suggestions above it is the only word I would use as synonym for hypothesis in technical writing. Of course this is Economics, it may be different in other fields.
    – Jacinto
    Dec 27, 2015 at 16:09
  • I'm surprised by the claim of vastness of hypothesis in your post. I've always thought of it as a bit weaker then an assumption. (I also expected postulate to be stronger than conjecture.) Of course, my belief has little impact on the actual meaning and usage of the language, so it shouldn't be taken as an argument. Nevertheless, the belief came from the contact with English so there's something to it. Would you be a sport and share a comment in that regard? (The scale of strength, not my beliefs unable to affect the language, that is.) Dec 27, 2015 at 18:13
  • @KonradViltersten -IMO, all of the suggested words imply speculating something, without considerable proof, purely based on observations. Only that, the degree of speculation varies with each, but at the end of the day, they are all some sort of guesses, to very loosely term them. In Maths, we have assumptions,without which most theorems will be hard to prove. A postulate, would be somewhat better than an assumption, by virtue of being observed more often than normal. I hope this clarifies the basis of my answer. Of course, another answer above clarifies things better and is accepted by OP.
    – BiscuitBoy
    Dec 28, 2015 at 6:09

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