Hypothetically speaking is a common expression used as a subjunctive in dialogues, debates and arguments.
According to an answer posted by Hannah Figueras on Quora in 2016, Hypothetically speaking typically appears at the beginning of the sentences, and is used to invite the discussion partner to imagine a scenario which hasn’t happened and may not even be possible, and pretend what if it would happen.
Contrary to the common disbelief about the terms hypothetically speaking and “theoretically speaking” mean the same, the former expression indicates the proposition of more abstract ideas, while the latter indicates more realistic concepts.
The adverb, ‘hypothetically”, is derived from the noun, “hypothesis”, which means an assumption or the basis for further discussion, research or exploration. When people speak hypothetically, they are basing what follows on an unproven notion.
In everyday language, people use hypothetically speaking in relation to anything, from the weather to the outcome of an election, or the state of the economy this time next year. It has also been part of scientific literature since at least the 17th century.
According to an article written by Migaspin on Urban Dictionary, hypothetically speaking can be also used in a more absurd way, “when you don’t want to say you did something, but you actually did it.”
- Howigotjob.com – The Meaning of ‘Hypothetically Speaking’ and How to Use it Professionally
- Linguaholic.com – Hypothetically Speaking