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used in a sentence
3 meanings
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1  —as in:
a speculative look or mind
Definition showing, engaged in, or having a tendency of curiosity or deep thought
  • She looked speculative as she turned her head back to the computer screen.
speculative = curious or in deep thought
Other Uses (with this meaning)
  • She raised a speculative eyebrow.
  • speculative = curious
  • She looked speculative for a few seconds and then made her decision.
  • speculative = deep in thought
  • Although there may be some truth in both hypotheses, this sort of posthumous off-the-rack psychoanalysis is a dubious, highly speculative enterprise that inevitably demeans and trivializes the absent analysand.
    Jon Krakauer  --  Into the Wild
  • speculative = uncertain
  • Kynes directed a speculative look at Jessica, gave a subtle hand signal to Tuek.
    Frank Herbert  --  Dune
  • speculative = showing curiosity
  • His eye rested speculatively on Mr. Justice Wargrave.
    Agatha Christie  --  And Then There Were None
  • speculatively = with curiosity or interest
  • The search for new weapons continues unceasingly, and is one of the very few remaining activities in which the inventive or speculative type of mind can find any outlet.
    George Orwell  --  1984
  • speculative = curious or deep-thinking
  • Rhett watched the train until it was out of sight and on his face there was a look of speculative bitterness that was not pleasant.
    Margaret Mitchell  --  Gone with the Wind
  • speculative = thoughtful
  • Martin sank or rose to Clif's buoyancy, while Clif rose or sank to Martin's speculativeness.
    Sinclair Lewis  --  Arrowsmith
  • speculativeness = deep thoughtfulness
    (Editor's note:  The suffix "-ness" converts an adjective to a noun that means the quality of. This is the same pattern you see in words like darkness, kindness, and coolness.)
  • He had no longer free energy enough for spontaneous research and speculative thinking, but by the bedside of patients, the direct external calls on his judgment and sympathies brought the added impulse needed to draw him out of himself.
    George Eliot  --  Middlemarch
speculative = arising from curiosity rather than need

Dictionary / pronunciation — Google®Dictionary / more samples — Oxford® USDictionary list —®
2  —as in:
a speculative theory
Definition based on thought or theory that is unproven or unprovable
  • The theory remains speculative; though we hope her study will provide supporting evidence.
speculative = unproven
Other Uses (with this meaning)
  • The damage is done once the rumor is reported—however speculative it may be.
  • speculative = based on conjecture (thoughts, guesses, and theories) rather than facts
  • Stephen Hawking said, "I'd rather be right than rigorous," as he transitioned to becoming more speculative in his thinking rather than insisting on mathematical proofs.
  • speculative = based on unproven thought or theory
  • Kant wanted to put an end to purely speculative theories of human experience without resorting to the skepticism of Hume.
  • speculative = unprovable
  • In the class of science fiction that is called speculative fiction, the author accepts something as true without proof that it could be (such as a new technology in the future), but tries to make the characters react in a natural way under the changed circumstances.
  • speculative = based on thought or theory that is unproven
  • My particular province is speculative philosophy.
    H.G. Wells  --  The War of the Worlds
  • speculative = based on thought that is not provable
  • Morris had a speculative idea that she had a little property; but he naturally did not press this.
    Henry James  --  Washington Square
  • speculative = an unproven thought
  • Once out of the lobby, I ducked into the doorway of the florist next door to check my messages and text Kitsey before heading downtown, just in case; if she was just getting out of her movie, I could meet her for dinner and a drink (alone, without the girlfriends: the weirdness of the incident seemed to call for it) and —definitely —a speculative and humorous talk on the behavior of Em.
    Donna Tartt  --  The Goldfinch
  • speculative = based on uncertain thought
  • There are yet, even at this day, many speculative objections to this theory.
    Adams, John Quincy  --  John Quincy Adams,"Orations"
speculative = based on thought or theory that is unproven

Dictionary / pronunciation — Google®Dictionary / more samples — Oxford® USDictionary list —®
3  —as in:
a speculative venture
Definition done with uncertainty—often a risky investment for profit
  • It's a highly speculative investment.
speculative = risky
Other Uses (with this meaning)
  • She wrote the screenplay as a speculative script (on spec), and was thrilled when the studio bought it.
  • speculative = without certainty of payment
  • She's too old to invest in speculative business enterprises.
  • speculative = risky
  • The country's bonds were downgraded to speculative non-investment grade, so I found myself with junk bonds in my retirement account.
  • speculative = risky investment
  • It was a speculative venture to call on the Rieslings; interesting and sometimes disconcerting.
    Sinclair Lewis  --  Babbitt
  • speculative = with much uncertainty
  • The room displayed a modest and pleasant color-scheme, after one of the best standard designs of the decorator who "did the interiors" for most of the speculative-builders' houses in Zenith.
    Sinclair Lewis  --  Babbitt
  • speculative = without certainty of payment
  • Probably, as with persons playing whist for love, the consciousness of a certain immunity under any circumstances from that worst possible ultimate, the having to pay, makes them unduly speculative.
    Thomas Hardy  --  Far from the Madding Crowd
  • speculative = risk-taking
  • Consider the wastes incidental to the blind and haphazard production of commodities—the factories closed, the workers idle, the goods spoiling in storage; consider the activities of the stock manipulator, the paralyzing of whole industries, the overstimulation of others, for speculative purposes; the assignments and bank failures, the crises and panics, the deserted towns and the starving populations!
    Upton Sinclair  --  The Jungle
  • speculative = to make money
  • It is worthy of remark that a certain speculative writer of quasi-scientific repute, writing long before the Martian invasion, did forecast for man a final structure not unlike the actual Martian condition.
    H.G. Wells  --  The War of the Worlds
  • speculative = without certainty of payment
  • Babbitt was an official delegate; another was Cecil Rountree, whom Babbitt admired for his picaresque speculative building, and hated for his social position, for being present at the smartest dances on Royal Ridge.
    Sinclair Lewis  --  Babbitt
speculative = without certainty of payment

Dictionary / pronunciation — Google®Dictionary / more samples — Oxford® USDictionary list —®
Less commonly:
More rarely, speculative can be used in a phrase such as speculative bubble which refers to an unsustainable increase in financial values based on market psychology. This sense of the word is based on the sense of speculative that refers to making a risky investment for profit.
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