I'm looking for a word that describes something that is not yet a scientifically proven fact, but people intuitively think to be true. The word is not "hypothesis" as I'm not describing The Scientific Method. Also hypothesis implies something that is potentially disprovable. I'm looking for a stronger term. Is there such a word or a phrase?

Here is an example:
"Hard work does not guarantee success".
People think (or know) this to be true even though it's not yet scientifically provable or disprovable. It's a general truth, not a hypothesis or a theory.

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    1. Single word requests require an example phrase. 2. Have you tried looking up "hypothesis" in a thesaurus? Were any of the words any good? Please include your research. 3. Something which people "think is true" is a "belief". I suspect this isn't the word you're looking for, but it may also be worth trying in a thesaurus.
    – AndyT
    Commented Aug 12, 2016 at 9:42
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    In my understanding, anything "people intuitively think to be true" usually turns out not to be true, so it doesn't make sense to say it's "not yet a fact". The reason The Scientific Method is so useful is because it's the only reliable way of separating facts from intuition, wishful thinking, etc. An idea / explanation which isn't "potentially disprovable" is unlikely to be worth thinking about at all. Commented Aug 12, 2016 at 12:01
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    @EdwinAshworth- then you have never heard of Godel's Incompleteness Theorem?
    – cobaltduck
    Commented Aug 12, 2016 at 14:32
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    @DJClayworth: I realise there are still people who believe "truth" can be discovered through faith, intuition, religious texts, etc., but such things don't really have much to do with OP's stated context of not yet a scientifically proven fact. Please don't raise irrelevant objections to the justification I gave for my closevote. Commented Aug 12, 2016 at 15:06
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    I'm not talking about faith and intuition. Plenty of fields of study, including reputable academic ones, discover truth that is in no way amenable to the scientific method. You overstated your case. Commented Aug 12, 2016 at 15:40

5 Answers 5



From wikipedia:

A truism is a claim that is so obvious or self-evident as to be hardly worth mentioning, except as a reminder or as a rhetorical or literary device, and is the opposite of falsism.
The word may also be used with a different sense in rhetoric, to disguise the fact that a proposition is really just an opinion.
Similarly, stating an accepted truth about life in general can also be called a truism.


Axiom: A statement or proposition that is regarded as being established, accepted, or self-evidently true

Merriam/Webster: a rule or principle that many people accept as true

Wikipedia states: An axiom or postulate as defined in classic philosophy, is a statement (in mathematics often shown in symbolic form) that is so evident or well-established, that it is accepted without controversy or question.

Note that this is not the pure mathematical definition, which is simply a "given" which may not be true but is assumed true in the current context.

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    I'll note that I posted the above answer at a point in time when Brannon Benge had deleted both of his answers which proposed "axiom". I did this because I felt that "axiom" was a valid answer and needed to be put forward. Brannon has since undeleted and then redeleted his answers several times, and, at this point of time, at least one is undeleted. I'm a little confused as to what's going on with regard to his answers and the others referencing them.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 23:51
  • You'll find an explanation on this meta post.
    – NVZ
    Commented Aug 27, 2016 at 12:06
  • That meta post doesn't explain much.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Aug 27, 2016 at 12:52
  • I agree, it doesn't.
    – NVZ
    Commented Aug 27, 2016 at 19:54

Theory, either in a colloquial context or scientific. Per wikipedia :

"A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that is acquired through the scientific method and repeatedly tested and confirmed, preferably using a written, pre-defined, protocol of observations and experiments. Scientific theories are the most reliable, rigorous, and comprehensive form of scientific knowledge."

  • I'm looking for a stronger term. "Theory" and "Hypothesis" are similar. You can take a look at my edit for an example. Commented Aug 13, 2016 at 19:36

I guess I'll add some rarer words that have similar meanings to the words being mentioned:

    merriam-webster.com definition:


    noun | ap·o·thegm | \ˈa-pə-ˌthem\

    Definition of APOTHEGM
    : a short, pithy, and instructive saying or formulation : APHORISM

    oxforddictionaries.com definition:


    noun | \ˈnōm\

    Definition of GNOME
    : a short statement encapsulating a general truth : MAXIM
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    – tchrist
    Commented Aug 26, 2016 at 3:09

A long-established theory is a scientific law.

A law can be disproven, but it's been upheld many times up to now.

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