Definition of “supposed” - English Dictionary

“supposed” in British English

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uk /səˈpəʊzd/ us /səˈpoʊzd/

supposed adjective (DUTY)

be supposed to

More examples

  • The whole conference was totally disorganized - nobody knew what they were supposed to be doing.
  • The appointments are supposed to be made without fear or favour.
  • You know full well that you're not supposed to go there without asking me!
  • You're supposed to put the handbrake on whenever you stop on a hill.
  • I was supposed to be working this evening but what the hell - I'll see you in the pub in half an hour.

B2 to have to; to have a duty or a responsibility to:

The children are supposed to be at school by 8.45 a.m.
What are you doing out of bed - you're supposed to be asleep.
You're not supposed (= allowed) to park here.

supposed adjective (INTENDED)

be supposed to

More examples

  • The cost of living in the city is more expensive, but salaries are supposed to be correspondingly higher.
  • This new video-recorder is supposed to be foolproof.
  • Cats are supposed to have nine lives.
  • The new broom was supposed to improve the way the department is managed, but things have been worse than ever since she arrived.
  • This cream is supposed to help nourish your skin.

B1 to be intended to:

These batteries are supposed to last for a year.
We were supposed to have gone away this week, but Debbie's ill so we couldn't go.
How am I supposed to (= how can I) find that much money by the end of the week?

supposed adjective (OTHERS' OPINION)

[ before noun ] used to show that you do not believe that something or someone really is what many other people consider them to be:

a supposed genius
The costs of the programme outweigh its supposed benefits.

More examples

  • Older people tend to be quite conservative and a bit suspicious of any supposed advances.
  • The supposed trickle-down effect of lower taxes for the rich has not yet resulted in greater prosperity for society as a whole.
  • The supposed advantages of city living meant nothing to him.
  • They were all eager for a share in his supposed fortune.
  • Her supposed good looks were legendary at the time.

(Definition of “supposed” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

“supposed” in American English

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supposedadjective [ not gradable ]

us /səˈpoʊ·zɪd, -ˈpoʊzd/

believed by many people to be true, but not proven and often doubted by the person who is speaking or writing:

Nighttime experiments demonstrated that supposed eyewitnesses could not have seen anyone clearly enough to identify them at the distances described.
The cost of the plan far outweighs its supposed benefits.


us /səˈpoʊzd/

supposed adjective (RESPONSIBLE)

[ not gradable ] responsible:

The children aresupposed to be at school by 8:45 a.m.

supposed adjective (INTENDED)


These batteries are supposed to last for a year.
not supposed to

If you are not supposed to do something you are not allowed to do it:

You're not supposed to park here.

supposed adjective (CONSIDERED)

[ not gradable ] considered by many people:

Her new book is supposed to be excellent.

(Definition of “supposed” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)