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the·o·ry  audio  (th-r, thîr) KEY 

NOUN:
pl. the·o·ries
  1. A set of statements or principles devised to explain a group of facts or phenomena, especially one that has been repeatedly tested or is widely accepted and can be used to make predictions about natural phenomena.
  2. The branch of a science or art consisting of its explanatory statements, accepted principles, and methods of analysis, as opposed to practice: a fine musician who had never studied theory.
  3. A set of theorems that constitute a systematic view of a branch of mathematics.
  4. Abstract reasoning; speculation: a decision based on experience rather than theory.
  5. A belief or principle that guides action or assists comprehension or judgment: staked out the house on the theory that criminals usually return to the scene of the crime.
  6. An assumption based on limited information or knowledge; a conjecture.

ETYMOLOGY:
Late Latin theria, from Greek theri, from theros, spectator : probably the, a viewing + -oros, seeing (from horn, to see)


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