The Meaning of Putative: What It Is and How To Use It

Have you ever wondered that the word putative means? This guide will provide you with all of the knowledge you need on the word putative, including its meaning, example sentences, synonyms, etymology, and more!

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What does the word putative mean?

According to Merriam-Webster, Dictionary, and other dictionary apps, the English language word putative, pronounces “ˈpjuːtətɪv” means that something is commonly accepted, commonly regarded as being a certain way, or assumed to exist or have existed. If something is putative, this means that it has not been proven but is widely speculated as such on these inconclusive grounds. Related words to the word putative are putatively, which is an adverb, unputative, and unputatively. The word putative is an adjective, which means that it is used to describe a noun. 

Some things can be putative if they are widely accepted as fact, but have no real way to prove it. For example, according to Star Date, the widely believed idea that an asteroid killed the dinosaurs millions of years ago is widely accepted because we know that a seven-mile-wide asteroid hit the Earth 65 million years ago, when we believe the dinosaurs were killed off. However, there is no way to know this for sure and scientists are still studying mass extinction to try and decipher how the dinosaurs were actually killed. This also goes for how the dinosaurs looked. Scientists and archaeologists may have discovered the bones of these dinosaurs, but it is still unclear how much fat they may have had, or which ones had feathers, making them more similar to birds than we may have previously believed. 

What is the etymology of the word putative?

According to Etymonline, the word putative has been used since the early 15th century. This word comes from the Late Latin putativus or putatus, meaning supposed. This comes from the Latin putāt-, which is the past participle of putāre, meaning to judge, believe, or suspect. This word originally meant to clean or trim. This word was initially only used in the term “putative marriage,” which was a marriage that was legally invalid but contracted by one party. Your Dictionary states that the word has been attested in Middle English since 1432, where it stemmed from the Old French putatif. This word is also thought to come from the Latin putare.

According to Find Any Answer, the suffix -tive means “adaptive.” 

How can the word putative be used in a sentence?

The word putative can be used to describe any situation that has not been proven, but is widely speculated to be true for any number of reasons. This word is rather formal, so one does not need to worry about it being too casual for professional scenarios like business emails, negotiations, or other formal situations. In this first example, people are discussing the potential father of an orphaned child.

Person 1: I heard the pub owner is the putative father.

Person 2: Wow, really? Poor little foundling.

Person 1: Yeah, but he won’t come forward and say it because he’s already got eight kids of his own, and his wife thinks he might even have more from a ton of affairs.

Person 2: My goodness. Well, what is going to happen to the child if he doesn’t come forward? Do we know who the mother is?

Person 1: Nope, she dropped the poor girl on the steps of the orphanage right after the birth, like a wrinkly little prune. But she looks just like the pub owner. It’s uncanny. She could be anyone.

Person 2: How does a person hide a pregnancy for so long?

Person 1: It sure is a mystery.

Here, person one describes the pub owner as the putative father because the town believes him to be the father based on his resemblance to the orphaned child and his propensity for affairs. In this next scenario, two people are discussing a potential murderer in a scandal in their town.

Person 1: I really do think it’s the bookkeeper. He was at the scene of the crime that day, he had the motive, he knew how much money Sir Wellington really had. It has to be him.

Person 2: But where is the weapon? And why was he seen down at the pub at the same time the murder is said to have been committed?

Person 1: Beats me, but everyone’s saying he’s the putative criminal. They’re just waiting on one last piece of evidence to make the arrest.

What are synonyms and antonyms to the word putative?

There are many different words that one can use in place of the word putative. Words that have the same meaning as a given word or phrase are called synonyms. Someone might choose to use a synonym in order to improve their vocabulary or avoid repeating themselves. This list of synonyms for the word putative is provided by Thesaurus.

  • hypothetical
  • assumed
  • conjectural
  • imputed
  • presumed
  • alleged
  • reputed
  • presumptive
  • suppositious
  • reported
  • accepted
  • suppositional
  • supposed

If someone wished to describe something that was the opposite of putative, this person would use an antonym. Antonyms are words and phrases that mean the opposite of a given word. This list of antonyms for the word putative is also provided by Thesaurus. These words all mean that something has been proven, and are not alleged.

  • explained
  • tried
  • demonstrated
  • proven
  • verifies
  • resulted
  • confirmed
  • convinced
  • shown
  • determined
  • justified
  • tested
  • validated
  • found
  • substantiated
  • turned out

Overall, the word putative is an adjective that is used to describe something that is widely accepted or believed, but has not yet been proven. Other words that have a similar meaning to the word putative are assumed or speculated. This word has Latin roots, and is usually used to describe things that are conjectural in nature. 

Sources:

  1. https://www.thesaurus.com/browse/putative
  2. https://findanyanswer.com/what-does-the-suffix-itive-mean#:~:text=Suffix%20%2Dtive.,is%20that%20it%20can%20adapt.
  3. https://www.thesaurus.com/browse/proven
  4. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/putative#examples
  5. https://www.etymonline.com/word/putative
  6. https://www.dictionary.com/browse/putative
  7. https://stardate.org/astro-guide/faqs/did-asteroid-really-kill-dinosaurs https://www.yourdictionary.com/putative