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WORD OF THE DAY: PUTATIVE
1: commonly accepted or supposed
2 : assumed to exist or to have existed
Did you know?
There’s no need to make assumptions about the root behind putative; scholars are quite certain the word comes from Latin putatus, the past participle of the verb putare, which means “to consider” or “to think.” Putative has been part of English since the 15th century, and it often shows up in legal contexts. For instance, a “putative marriage” is one that is believed to be legal by at least one of the parties involved. When that trusting person finds out that their marriage is not sanctioned by law, other putare derivatives—such as dispute, reputed, imputation, and deputy—may come into play.
Did you know?
Putative: Always Before a Noun
Putative is almost always used in front of a noun, the modified noun being that which is assumed or supposed to be. The putative cause of a death, for example, is the one widely believed to have caused it, even when it hasn’t been proven or made certain. However, one does not say “the cause was putative.”
This has always been a nation willing to sell out its past for putative progress.
—Anna Quindlen, Newsweek, 3 June 2002
The putative champions of liberty took up the cry of dissent only after it had become profitable and safe …
—Lewis H. Lapham, Harper’s, June 2000
Back in Hollywood in a few weeks, I was discouraged to find yet another putative director wandering about in the Cowan offices, also unpaid.
—Arthur Miller, Timebends, 1987
the putative reason for her dismissal was poor job performance