Late Latin theoria, from Greek contemplation, theory, from theoros, spectator, from theasthai, to observe, from thea, a viewing (Grolier, 1986:1335)
Definition of theory
(a) Systematically organized knowledge applicable in relatively wide variety of circumstance; especially, a system of assumptions, accepted principles, and rules of procedure devised to analyze, predict, or otherwise explain the nature or behavior of a specified set of phenomena. (b) Such knowledge or such a system distinguished from experiment or practice.
Abstract reasoning; speculation
Broadly, hypothesis or supposition (Grolier, 1986:1335)
Definition of literary theory
The practice of describing, interpreting, and evaluating literature (Morner and Rausch, 1998:121)