Denoting a supposition or inference based on what was commonly believed, reputed, or deemed rather than on a direct evidence


The word putative is used to describe an entity or a concept that is based on what is generally accepted or inferred even without a direct proof of it.

Putative gene, for instance, refers to a nucleotide sequence believed to be a gene because of its open reading frame although its function and the protein it codes for has not been (fully) identified.1 For example, Putative gene 57 is the (temporary) name suggested for the gene coding for a protein produced by Bacteriophage SP01 that infects the bacterium, Bacillus subtilis.2

Other examples:

Word origin: Middle French putatif, from Latin putātīvus (supposed, purported), from putātus (thought), from putō.

Mentioned in:

1Slonczewski, Joan; John Watkins Foster (2009). Microbiology: An Evolving Science. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.
2Stewart CR, Gaslightwala I, Hinata K, Krolikowski KA, Needleman DS, Peng AS, Peterman MA, Tobias A, Wei P. Genes and regulatory sites of the "host-takeover module" in the terminal redundancy of Bacillus subtilis bacteriophage SPO1. Virology. 1998 Jul 5; 246 (2): 329-40.

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