Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

English definition of “theory”

See all translations

theory

noun
 
 
/ˈθɪəri/ ( plural theories)
[C or U] a formal statement of ideas that are suggested to explain a fact or event, or how something works: He has four theories to explain organizational change and development.economic/political theory Economic theory says that there is little connection between the euro's value against the dollar or the yen and the success of monetary union itself.a theory of sth In this article the authors develop a theory of high-performing organizations.
[C or U] a formal statement of the rules or principles on which an activity or a subject of study is based: management/organization theory This case study has important implications for management theory the theory and practice of running a department
[C] a statement of an opinion or an explanation of an idea that is believed to be true, but might be wrong: The theory is that staff react better to praise than to criticism. People will buy the product if you put it in the right place - well, that's the theory anyway.
in theory if something is possible in theory, it should be possible, but often it does not happen in that way: In theory, you can be up and trading in a just a day. Employing fewer people sounds great in theory, but how's it going to work out in practice?
→  See also content theory , economic theory , expectancy theory , Elliott wave theory , employment theory , game theory , Herzberg's two-factor theory , monetary theory , organizational theory , price theory , queuing theory
Translations of “theory”
in Korean 이론…
in Arabic نَظَرِيّة…
in French théorie…
in Turkish kuram, teori…
in Italian teoria…
in Chinese (Traditional) 理論, 學說, 意見…
in Russian теория…
in Polish teoria…
in Spanish teoría…
in Portuguese teoria…
in German die Theorie…
in Catalan teoria…
in Japanese 理論, 説…
in Chinese (Simplified) 理论, 学说, 意见…
(Definition of theory from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
What is the pronunciation of theory?
Add Cambridge dictionaries to your browser to your website

Definitions of “theory” in other dictionaries

Word of the Day

white Christmas

a Christmas when it snows

Word of the Day

Cleavage proves divisive in Cambridge’s words of 2014

by Alastair Horne,
December 19, 2014
​​​​ Other dictionaries may choose faddish novelties as their words of the year, but here at Cambridge, we like to do something different. We look for the words that have seen sudden surges in searches over the course of the year – words that have been baffling users of English and driven them

Read More 

cinderella surgery noun

December 15, 2014
cosmetic surgery to the feet We have all heard of people having nose jobs, boob jobs and liposuction – but now a new trend growing in popularity in America: Cinderella surgery.

Read More