What is a single word to convey the sense of "inaccurate suspicion," but that tends to infer a bit of unfairness, such as

It is immoral to use brutal force in response to [inaccurate suspicion].

  • Are you saying if I know you suspect me of doing something that I, of course, know I didn’t do, it’s immoral of me to use brutal force in my response to your attacks on me?
    – Jim
    Oct 22, 2017 at 4:28
  • @jim No, I’m saying that if a nation or some other entity has the sneeking suspicion that some other entity has it out for them, it is wrong for them to completely annihilate them. And anyway, it’s just a silly example sentence... I would have to sit and think about whether I actually agree with it. Oct 22, 2017 at 13:55
  • At that point it’s not known to be inaccurate though (except possibly by the object of suspicion) - it’s just a suspicion.
    – Jim
    Oct 22, 2017 at 15:13
  • 1
    – tchrist
    Oct 25, 2017 at 18:33

4 Answers 4


Inaccurate suspicion is supposition, but, as commented below, I think misconception is closer in meaning to the above question which is dealing not with a prior, unvoiced, suspicion but is about a suspicion that becomes active - so misconception would then be more appropriate, I feel.


A view or opinion that is incorrect because based on faulty thinking or understanding.‘public misconceptions about antibiotic use’

Oxford Dictionary

supposition ˌsʌpəˈzɪʃ(ə)n/Submit noun

a belief held without proof or certain knowledge; an assumption or hypothesis. "they were working on the supposition that his death was murder"

Google Dictionary

  • But that’s just suspicion. inaccurate suspicion would be when that suspicion is known to be incorrect. For example: “They were working under the misconception that his death was murder”
    – Jim
    Oct 22, 2017 at 5:26
  • I like that definition, although supposition seems to have slightly different underlying tones to me. Much like Jim said. Oct 22, 2017 at 13:59

Suspicion is suspicion. Whether your suspicion is based on assumptions or not, it is always the feeling or belief that something may be possible or true.

You can't have a bad suspicion nor a good suspicion. What you suspect to be possible is really what is at stake here, whether good or bad. The suspicion itself, however, cannot inherently be bad or good, only the actual event.

  • I didn’t say anything about good or bad, only accurate or inaccurate. Oct 22, 2017 at 13:57

The precisest word in English to this concept is "surmise".

  • The OED defines: "To form a notion that the thing in question may be so, on slight grounds or without proof; to infer conjecturally."

  • A surmise is (obsoletely) "An allegation, charge, imputation; esp. a false, unfounded, or unproved charge or allegation."

  • A surmiser is "One who makes a surmise or conjecture (esp. ill-founded); [...] one who suspects evil of another."


bogey noun (FEAR)

[ C usually singular ] (also bogie); (bogy) something that causes fear among a lot of people, often without reason: the bogey of unemployment


"a mere bogey" gets the idea over even better but you wanted a single word.

  • In comments which have now mysteriously disappeared, someone commented that they regarded this as a specifically British English usage which didn't apply in the US. There is an article by a US writer here which uses the word in the second paragraph unherd.com/2021/09/are-white-feminists-evil
    – Nemo
    Sep 3, 2021 at 9:18

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