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English Dictionary: theory by the DICT Development Group
4 results for theory
From WordNet (r) 3.0 (2006) [wn]:
theory
n
  1. a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world; an organized system of accepted knowledge that applies in a variety of circumstances to explain a specific set of phenomena; "theories can incorporate facts and laws and tested hypotheses"; "true in fact and theory"
  2. a tentative insight into the natural world; a concept that is not yet verified but that if true would explain certain facts or phenomena; "a scientific hypothesis that survives experimental testing becomes a scientific theory"; "he proposed a fresh theory of alkalis that later was accepted in chemical practices"
    Synonym(s): hypothesis, possibility, theory
  3. a belief that can guide behavior; "the architect has a theory that more is less"; "they killed him on the theory that dead men tell no tales"
From Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) [web1913]:
   Theory \The"o*ry\, n.; pl. {Theories}. [F. th[82]orie, L.
      theoria, Gr. [?] a beholding, spectacle, contemplation,
      speculation, fr. [?] a spectator, [?] to see, view. See
      {Theater}.]
      1. A doctrine, or scheme of things, which terminates in
            speculation or contemplation, without a view to practice;
            hypothesis; speculation.
  
      Note: [bd]This word is employed by English writers in a very
               loose and improper sense. It is with them usually
               convertible into hypothesis, and hypothesis is commonly
               used as another term for conjecture. The terms theory
               and theoretical are properly used in opposition to the
               terms practice and practical. In this sense, they were
               exclusively employed by the ancients; and in this
               sense, they are almost exclusively employed by the
               Continental philosophers.[b8] --Sir W. Hamilton.
  
      2. An exposition of the general or abstract principles of any
            science; as, the theory of music.
  
      3. The science, as distinguished from the art; as, the theory
            and practice of medicine.
  
      4. The philosophical explanation of phenomena, either
            physical or moral; as, Lavoisier's theory of combustion;
            Adam Smith's theory of moral sentiments.
  
      {Atomic theory}, {Binary theory}, etc. See under {Atomic},
            {Binary}, etc.
  
      Syn: Hypothesis, speculation.
  
      Usage: {Theory}, {Hypothesis}. A theory is a scheme of the
                  relations subsisting between the parts of a systematic
                  whole; an hypothesis is a tentative conjecture
                  respecting a cause of phenomena.

From Jargon File (4.2.0, 31 JAN 2000) [jargon]:
   theory n.   The consensus, idea, plan, story, or set of rules
   that is currently being used to inform a behavior.   This usage is a
   generalization and (deliberate) abuse of the technical meaning.
   "What's the theory on fixing this TECO loss?"   "What's the theory on
   dinner tonight?"   ("Chinatown, I guess.")   "What's the current
   theory on letting lusers on during the day?"   "The theory behind
   this change is to fix the following well-known screw...."
  
  

From The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing (15Feb98) [foldoc]:
   theory
  
      The consensus, idea, plan, story, or set of rules that is
      currently being used to inform a behaviour.   This usage is a
      generalisation and (deliberate) abuse of the technical
      meaning.   "What's the theory on fixing this TECO loss?"
      "What's the theory on dinner tonight?"   ("Chinatown, I
      guess.")   "What's the current theory on letting lusers on
      during the day?"   "The theory behind this change is to fix the
      following well-known screw...."
  
      (1994-12-14)
  
  
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