Is there a word that has a similar meaning to (potentially) "never-existent"?

For example:

"John claimed that the potentially never-existent journal was 'lost'."

  • Not currently existing but existed at some point vs. never have existed at all? Fictitious?
    – Tim
    Dec 12 '16 at 7:52
  • @Diafotismos, I edited the question to prefix potentially to never-exsitent based on the example that you gave. Dec 12 '16 at 8:19
  • 1
    Possible duplicate of Is there a verb opposite of "to exist"?
    – deadrat
    Dec 12 '16 at 9:51
  • "Mythical" is often used in such situations. Depends on how much chance there is that the journal ever existed in the first place. ("Alleged" is good if there is a (small) chance that it existed.)
    – Hot Licks
    Dec 12 '16 at 12:35

You can use "alleged" to mean "claimed but not proven (to exist)".

"John claimed that the alleged journal was 'lost'."



[attributive] Said, without proof, to have taken place or to have a specified illegal or undesirable quality:
‘the alleged conspirators’

‘The British Museum, too, says it knows nothing about any alleged fakes in its displays.’

  1. Imaginary: Existing only in the imagination or fancy

Example: He blames the hold-up on an imaginary broker he calls

  1. Illusory:Causing illusion; misleading

Example:In the end, though, the size of the field staff, the number of offices, and the number of early voters might be illusory.

  1. Supposed: Generally assumed or believed to be the case, but not necessarily so.

Example: Vietnam is the supposed site of an ancient temple

  1. Hypothetical: Imagined or suggested.

Example: This is all very hypothetical but supposing Jackie got the job, how would that affect you?


This question is similar to A word to describe an incident or event that may or may not have taken place.

My answer, at least, is the same:

purported - said to be true or real but not definitely true or real

(From Merriam-Webster)

If you were to say, "purported journal," the connotation would be that you are quite skeptical.

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