Definition of doubt in English:



  • [mass noun] A feeling of uncertainty or lack of conviction.

    ‘some doubt has been cast upon the authenticity of this account’
    [count noun] ‘they had doubts that they would ever win’
    • ‘When he looked up at her, his eyes seemed filled with doubt and uncertainty.’
    • ‘So we're back to the usual campaign of fear, uncertainty and doubt.’
    • ‘We will even defend those who may not be innocent, but who have raised reasonable prospects of doubt about their conviction.’
    • ‘We call it a dialogue and not a debate because both economists acknowledge areas of doubt and uncertainty.’
    • ‘The approach appears to be one of instilling fear, uncertainty and doubt in those who apply for rebates to which they are entitled.’
    • ‘The viewers are not fools, they pick up on doubt and uncertainty on screen and hit the remote accordingly.’
    • ‘I fell victim to a sudden flash of doubt at my conviction that the Force didn't really exist.’
    • ‘However, where there are grounds for doubt or uncertainty on factual accuracy, this needs to be indicated.’
    • ‘There is too much reasonable doubt for a conviction.’
    • ‘I neither agreed with nor approved her methods or her language, but there was never any doubt about her passion and the depth of her conviction.’
    • ‘Each relationship, until now, had doubt, anxiety, uncertainty, as their qualities.’
    • ‘Even the most assertive and level-headed woman may feel doubt or a certain lack of self-confidence.’
    • ‘I can see the allure of clothing oneself in the armor of faith, to defend against the assault of doubt and uncertainty.’
    • ‘He said he would question the validity of parts of that opinion and would bring fresh evidence which cast doubt on the conviction.’
    • ‘Jonathan's face was a changing canvas of doubt, fear, uncertainty.’
    • ‘I expressed enthusiasm, and he, as usual, expressed some doubt and uncertainty.’
    • ‘It brought me into the realm of doubt and uncertainty.’
    • ‘Youthful, idealistic romance has grown into love, hopefulness into doubt, and anger into distance.’
    • ‘Coupling feelings of doubt with low self-esteem leads to very dire consequences.’
    • ‘Discipline here reduces uncertainty, procrastination and doubt among suppliers.’
    uncertainty, lack of certainty, unsureness, indecision, hesitation, hesitancy, dubiousness, suspicion, confusion
    scepticism, distrust, mistrust, lack of trust, doubtfulness, suspicion, cynicism, disbelief, incredulity, unbelief, misbelief, lack of confidence, lack of conviction, uneasiness, apprehension, wariness, chariness, questioning
    indecision, hesitation, diffidence, uncertainty, insecurity, inhibition, unease, uneasiness, apprehension
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  • 1[with object] Feel uncertain about.

    ‘I doubt my ability to do the job’
    [with clause] ‘I doubt if anyone slept that night’
    • ‘Though he had fine words to say about democracy, in truth he doubted the ability of the people to act wisely.’
    • ‘However, you can't doubt his ability to adjust, given his record.’
    • ‘I seriously doubted my ability to drive so Mike and Christine came to my rescue again.’
    • ‘I have never doubted her ability to make a positive contribution to this community.’
    • ‘So destructive was Vabaza that detractors doubted Shabani's boxing ability and called on Vabaza to prove himself against a more formidable fighter.’
    • ‘Is there anyone out there who still doubts this?’
    • ‘His ability as a ball carrier cannot be doubted by anybody who pays this game more than a passing glance.’
    • ‘It was hoped that the weight of celestial opinion would undermine his authority and cause him to doubt his own decision-making ability.’
    • ‘I am not sure what good these conversations did Kay, but they helped me to understand that doubting one's ability was not an adequate excuse for inaction.’
    • ‘I constantly question his love, which has led to him doubting our relationship.’
    • ‘She said she doubted its ability to run the service, and asked the Executive to start negotiations with other operators.’
    • ‘And he now doubts anything will happen until after the next presidential election.’
    • ‘Katy would never doubt her friend's incredible abilities again.’
    distrust, mistrust, have doubts about, harbour suspicions about, have misgivings about, be sceptical about, have qualms about, be suspicious of, be wary of, feel chary about, feel uneasy about, harbour reservations about, have reservations about, have a funny feeling about
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    1. 1.1Question the truth or fact of (something)
      ‘who can doubt the value and necessity of these services?’
      • ‘If anyone doubted his right to be a Ryder Cup player, let alone a hero, that result speaks for itself.’
      • ‘That extraction mission was made difficult by the circumstances and the fact that she doubted the validity of the operation.’
      • ‘No one today doubts the theory of gravity, but in fact our scientific understanding of gravity is quite lacking.’
      • ‘I do not doubt your claim at all, but your question made me try to think of similar cases.’
      • ‘If anyone doubts this projected finishing date, then they should look up the Minister's statement made on August 29, 2000.’
      • ‘Anyone who doubts this should look at the viewing figures for sport on television.’
      • ‘I doubted Conner had anyone out there other than his family.’
      • ‘No-one is foolish enough to doubt his talent, yet it remains an indisputable fact that he has never won the games that really matter.’
      • ‘I do not doubt their sincerity or their integrity; what I question is the rationality of their theories and methods.’
      • ‘They feel free to question the possibility of knowledge because they also doubt its value.’
      • ‘In fact, he doubted her creditability, until she pulled out a map she had bought from one of the merchants in Sernual.’
      • ‘It is your right to doubt the validity and truth of this site.’
      • ‘If anyone doubted his songwriting credentials, this sharply conceived social drama confirms his status as one of Britain's best.’
      • ‘The awful truth is that I doubt the relaxation of the licensing laws will make much difference; in fact, if they slow down these binges, the new hours might even help.’
      • ‘He doubts many more B.C. ferries will be built in B.C. shipyards.’
      • ‘She, 44, said she never doubted her son's innocence, despite the fact police have identified him as their only suspect.’
      • ‘Anyone who doubted this had only to look at the actual behaviour of human beings in all the societies in the world.’
      • ‘If anyone doubted the BBC's bias before they'll surely be having second thoughts today.’
      • ‘Anyone who doubts this should try driving at 60 mph on any of our main roads out of Sligo and keep a count of the number of cars that will overtake you.’
      • ‘Anybody who doubts this need only travel along the South Coast in the old Transkei and Ciskei, where traditional leaders still rule.’
      think something unlikely, have doubts about, have one's doubts about, question, query, be dubious, lack conviction, have reservations about
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    2. 1.2Disbelieve or lack faith in (someone)
      ‘I have no reason to doubt him’
      • ‘So, when he says that he is resigning for personal reasons, I see no reason to doubt him.’
      • ‘A lot of people doubted him and said that he wasn't county material.’
      • ‘The only reason to doubt him now is because yesterday's opponents provided an inadequate test.’
      • ‘Allen is a solid reporter so, at this time, I have no reason to doubt him.’
      • ‘Though she had no reason to doubt him, Helen decided more verification was necessary.’
      • ‘For some reason, I doubted Daniel would come home for Christmas.’
      • ‘He tells me, and I have no reason to doubt him, that at the end of the week all the money is gone.’
      • ‘He doesn't trust me, though I never gave him reason to doubt me.’
      • ‘You are better informed than me on this case and I have no reason to doubt you.’
      • ‘Nobody ever believes this story, so maybe if I put it in print, people will no longer doubt me.’
      • ‘He maintains that he is not a cheat, and there is no reason to doubt him.’
      • ‘He is aware that many people doubt him, and he wants to know what his critics are saying in the UK.’
      • ‘He hasn't given me any real reason to doubt him, and yet none of this feels familiar.’
      • ‘He explained what he had seen and the other men, having already witnessed other events for themselves, had no reason to doubt him.’
      • ‘I have no reason to doubt him in the general sense.’
      • ‘Not there is any reason to doubt her; she takes care of the place with an impressive thoroughness.’
      • ‘I had a tendency to reinforce my beliefs far too much when I thought people doubted me.’
      • ‘For the record, he is an excellent teacher and we have never had any reason to doubt him.’
      • ‘With a £750m share buyback and 7% dividend hike to underpin his faith in the strategy, they will have few reasons for doubting him.’
      • ‘I had no reason to doubt him and had to work on the assumption he was armed.’
      disbelieve, distrust, mistrust, suspect, lack confidence in, have doubts about, be suspicious of, have suspicions about, have misgivings about, feel uneasy about, feel apprehensive about, call into question, cast doubt on, query, question, challenge, dispute, have reservations about
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    3. 1.3[no object]Feel uncertain, especially about one's religious beliefs.
      • ‘The courage to believe is easy, with lots of respectable company, but I admire more the courage to doubt.’
      • ‘But I have seen friends who once believed without doubting, and without testing those beliefs, slowly become more rational.’
      • ‘In order to doubt or wonder about the provenance of his beliefs an agent must know what belief is.’
      • ‘I became angry with myself for my blind belief in the Bus, and my reluctance to doubt before that minute.’
      be undecided, have doubts, be irresolute, be hesitant, be tentative, be ambivalent, be divided, be doubtful, be unsure, be uncertain, be in two minds, hesitate, shilly-shally, waver, falter, vacillate, dither, demur
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  • 2archaic [with clause] Fear; be afraid.

    ‘I doubt not any ones contradicting this Journal’
    • ‘Doubt not, my lord, they shall be well opposed.’


  • beyond doubt

    • Allowing no uncertainty.

      ‘you've proved it beyond doubt’
      • ‘We don't know which species, but the evidence shows beyond doubt that it is not species specific.’
      • ‘It has now been proved beyond doubt and some people have had their reputations ruined as a result.’
      • ‘His determination to help matters is beyond doubt and above reproach.’
      • ‘It proves beyond doubt Daly's assertion that bohemian, earthy things have an edge and can prove timeless.’
      • ‘That the origin of the garden goes back well beyond oriental and classical times to distant antiquity is beyond doubt.’
      • ‘That Britain is a multi ethnic and multi faith country is clearly beyond doubt and is reflected in the Census statistics.’
      • ‘His first strike was impressive but his injury-time volley that put the result beyond doubt was stunning.’
      • ‘In these cases, Hunter proved beyond doubt the notion that lymphatic vessels alone absorb fats and fluids.’
      • ‘The research also puts beyond doubt the notion that the sit-down family Sunday dinner is dying out.’
      • ‘Which is, of course, the point at which you know beyond doubt you've bought something seriously great.’
  • in doubt

    • 1Open to question.

      ‘the outcome is no longer in doubt’
      • ‘This has never been in doubt but we should have complete control over those who we intend to let in.’
      • ‘Now the fairness of the pools questionnaire is in doubt before it has left the printers.’
      • ‘Throughout her career, her commitment was never in doubt and her courage beyond question.’
      • ‘An American would ask: if you were going to leave in doubt the question of who's better, why did you play the game?’
      doubtful, uncertain, open to question, unsure, unconfirmed, unknown, unsettled, undecided, moot, unresolved, debatable, open to debate, in the balance, pending, in limbo, in no man's land, up in the air, confused, problematic, ambiguous
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      1. 1.1Feeling uncertain about something.
        ‘by the age of 14 he was in no doubt about his career aims’
        • ‘The events of the past are not in doubt; but the events of the future we can only guess.’
        • ‘As a general rule, if in doubt, discard any dodgy outer leaves and wash well.’
        • ‘If in doubt, don't guess: your doctor will be able to tell you whether the perforation has healed.’
        • ‘He is a man alone who knows every detail but still seems in doubt about the meaning.’
        • ‘Anyone in doubt about the sensitivity of land matters needs only to look across our southern border.’
        • ‘When in doubt, whether about the point of discussion or your response, use silence.’
        • ‘If in doubt, ask the removal company of your choice to come to estimate the size of vehicle which will be needed’
        • ‘That he can stay in tune and hit insinuating low notes isn't in doubt, but could he possibly sound any more detached?’
        • ‘The existence of the club appears in doubt unless players rally round.’
        • ‘She said anyone in doubt should consult a GP who had the charts showing height and weight and what are the healthy limits.’
        irresolute, hesitant, tentative, vacillating, dithering, wavering, teetering, fluctuating, faltering, ambivalent, divided
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  • no doubt

    • 1Used to indicate the speaker's firm belief that something is true.

      ‘those who left were attracted, no doubt, by higher pay’
      • ‘If the company had any claim to the plant, the position would no doubt be very different.’
      • ‘Skip has been there all day and will no doubt give a full update later when he returns.’
      • ‘All those who celebrate in this way no doubt regard theirs as a special occasion.’
      • ‘If the lad is anything like his father he'll no doubt grow to be a man we both will be proud of.’
      • ‘The margin of error that must be accepted for these rough guesses is no doubt a substantial one.’
      • ‘The design of the new complex will emerge and no doubt be the subject of considerable debate.’
      • ‘The three are appealing against the extradition ruling and the case will no doubt go all the way.’
      • ‘There are certainly many employees around town who no doubt wish they would, if only for a day.’
      • ‘Every piece of it in the hands of certain journalists could, no doubt, lead the news.’
      i assume, i expect, i believe, i presume, i take it, i suppose, i imagine, i dare say, i would have thought, it is to be presumed, i guess, in all probability, probably, in all likelihood, all things being equal, all things considered, as like as not, as likely as not, doubtless, undoubtedly, without doubt
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      1. 1.1Used to introduce a concession which is subsequently dismissed as unimportant or irrelevant.
        ‘they no doubt did what they could to help her, but their best proved insufficient’
        • ‘He will no doubt gain composure with more experience but he allowed him to smother his shot.’
        • ‘She was guilty, no doubt, but as this immensely moving film makes clear, she was also heartbreakingly human.’
        • ‘Many will no doubt disagree with me but imagine yourself in the following position.’
        doubtless, undoubtedly, indubitably, doubtlessly, without doubt, without a doubt, beyond doubt, beyond a doubt, beyond the shadow of a doubt
        unquestionably, beyond question, indisputably, undeniably, incontrovertibly, irrefutably
        unequivocally, clearly, plainly, obviously, patently, positively, absolutely, certainly
        decidedly, definitely, surely, assuredly, of course, indeed
        View synonyms
  • without (a) doubt

    • Indisputably.

      ‘he was without doubt the very worst kind of reporter’
      • ‘Tramore is without doubt the most naturally beautiful beach in the country if not the British Isles.’
      • ‘Mary's bread is without doubt a firm favourite with the girls who devour it after each session.’
      • ‘He is the best clay court player in the world, without a doubt, but it is the doubts that may scupper him.’
      • ‘The second day of our two-day jaunt was spent in Stamford, without doubt one of the finest towns in England.’
      • ‘Herefordshire might be better known for its cattle, but without doubt its more pressing claim to fame is its cider.’
      • ‘Arty is without doubt one of the finest and most sought-after guitar players in Ireland.’
      • ‘His appointment was without doubt a defining moment in the history of the Daily Telegraph.’
      • ‘It is without doubt one of the finest pieces of architecture in the county.’
      • ‘But without doubt a certain amount of grazing is important for breeding waders.’
      • ‘Yet he is without doubt the best classical actor of his generation.’
      doubtless, undoubtedly, indubitably, doubtlessly, without doubt, without a doubt, beyond doubt, beyond a doubt, beyond the shadow of a doubt
      unquestionably, beyond question, indisputably, undeniably, incontrovertibly, irrefutably
      unequivocally, clearly, plainly, obviously, patently, positively, absolutely, certainly
      decidedly, definitely, surely, assuredly, of course, indeed
      View synonyms


Middle English: from Old French doute (noun), douter (verb), from Latin dubitare hesitate, from dubius doubtful (see dubious).