Theoretically vs. hypothetically


Need help settling an argument! My girlfriend and I were getting ice cream with a friend a couple of weeks ago from a popular street vendor. The line was fairly long. Long story short, we ordered our ice cream and waited for our order to be completed. She got hers first, and said, "Hypothetically, yours is next." (Because I ordered right after her.) To which I responded, "No, theoretically mine is next."


The rest, as they say, is history. She claims that "hypothetically" is the right word when talking about pending ice cream order completions, whereas I say "theoretically." We've both looked up the definitions of the words and are still sticking to our opinions.


Who is right? Please say I am; she's right about everything else, so I could really use a victory!

Another way to think of the difference:Hypothetically - For the sake of argument, let's pretend the situation is thus and so.Theoretically - My experiences leads me to believe the situation is thus and so.

Lewis NeidhardtMay 18 '14 at 14:12

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I think the phrase 'hypothetically possible' has no meaning. If a thing is possible, then a theory can describe it. In a Hypothesis, there is no theory - yet at least - and so until there is a theory, it is not possible.

link comment answered Oct 24 '16 at 00:35 Simon Anthony New member

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