tr.v. pos·tu·lat·ed, pos·tu·lat·ing, pos·tu·lates
1. To assume or assert the truth, reality, or necessity of, especially as a basis of an argument: "We can see individuals, but we can't see providence; we have to postulate it" (Aldous Huxley).
2. To propose as a hypothesis or explanation: Researchers now postulate that the disease is caused by a virus.
3. To assume as a premise or axiom; take for granted.
4. Archaic To make claim for; demand.
n. (pŏschə-lĭt, -lāt′)
1. Something assumed without proof as being self-evident or generally accepted, especially when used as a basis for an argument: "the postulate that there is little moral difference between the superpowers" (Henry A. Kissinger).
2. A fundamental element; a basic principle.
3. Mathematics An axiom.
4. Archaic A requirement; a prerequisite.
[Medieval Latin postulāre, postulāt-, to nominate to a bishopric, to assume, from Latin, to request; see prek- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.