Definition of dubious in English:



  • 1Hesitating or doubting.

    ‘I was rather dubious about the whole idea’
    • ‘And it is that part that, I think, we are a little dubious about.’
    • ‘One direct result of this vicious circle was that many parents remained dubious about the quality of non-government education.’
    • ‘She was a bit dubious about it at first but now she is getting used to it and people adore her everywhere we go.’
    • ‘To work the sanctions would have to be ‘short, sharp and painful’ but an official report was dubious about their effectiveness.’
    • ‘He is similarly dubious about the suggestion that the protests were incited by older activists.’
    • ‘I have become more dubious about the last point.’
    • ‘Reading the script beforehand, I had been dubious about anyone performing it as a one-person show.’
    • ‘I was a little dubious about this tour from the outset.’
    • ‘I'm just a bit more dubious about the odds of this happening than Hewitt.’
    • ‘However, councillors were dubious about visiting the site.’
    • ‘I am also extremely dubious about grand projects.’
    • ‘‘I am very dubious about this sort of thing,’ added Dr Fitzpatrick.’
    • ‘I was pretty dubious about it when I was a journalist, but now I think it's remarkably ineffectual.’
    • ‘They are deeply dubious about whether he has succeeded at all on most domestic issues.’
    • ‘‘People who might be dubious about standing somewhere waiting for a bus may be more encouraged to do so if they know exactly when the bus is due,’ he said.’
    • ‘I'm not objecting to the Food Museum, of course, but I am somewhat dubious about the prospect of a hundred thousand visitors per year.’
    • ‘I was dubious about the composition project, until I heard the music.’
    • ‘He may have been dubious about some of the more outlandish changes that had occurred in journalism but it was always in a good-humoured way.’
    • ‘‘At first I was a bit dubious about going back to Bradford from Otley, but now I think the move is the best thing that we have ever done,’ he said.’
    • ‘I shrugged, probably dubious about the opportunity myself.’
    doubtful, uncertain, unsure, in doubt, hesitant
    View synonyms
  • 2Not to be relied upon; suspect.

    ‘extremely dubious assumptions’
    • ‘Such claims, he contends, rely on slippery language and dubious assumptions.’
    • ‘The argument for higher charges makes a number of dubious assumptions.’
    • ‘For some of these reports, Miller appears to have relied on highly dubious sources.’
    • ‘You are asking us to be careful about adopting assumptions which are founded on rather dubious ground and would subvert our intentions, good as they may be.’
    • ‘An increasingly isolated figure, he has come to rely on authorities whose expertise in the relevant disciplines is dubious.’
    • ‘An important part of the answer, I think, lies in exposing a number of dubious assumptions about human psychology.’
    • ‘His democratic credentials are highly dubious and suspect.’
    • ‘Instead, a dubious logic pervades, upon which we base entire networks of conclusions and imperatives.’
    • ‘However, those often rely on dubious assumptions.’
    • ‘To postulate the reality of the latter is in fact very dubious, because it relies on a contestable empirical claim that simply cannot be sustained.’
    • ‘Even if you make the dubious assumption that all of them were truly civilians, it is not surprising that so many died.’
    • ‘As such, it asks us to accept the dubious assumptions that interval returns are normally distributed and independent.’
    • ‘Finally, the model's dubious assumption is that current valuation levels are approximately correct.’
    • ‘They entail, furthermore, the dubious assumption that cultural change moves in only one direction: from top to bottom.’
    • ‘As I elucidated in the last section, misleading assumptions and dubious claims about western alienation abound.’
    • ‘Many of us were perhaps blinded by this hitherto unknown quality of sincerity, allowing it to eclipse the dubious methodologies upon which the plethora of information was based.’
    • ‘Red-hot rage may seem in order when the country's values have been trampled upon by a government with a dubious claim to legitimacy.’
    • ‘The dirty little secret of the polling industry is that, all too often, its findings are based on flawed methodology and dubious assumptions.’
    • ‘Such a belief, the Senate report said, relied on the use of increasingly dubious sources and a dismissal of dissenting views.’
    • ‘But here, as elsewhere, Smith's philosophical assumptions are highly dubious.’
    suspicious, suspect, under suspicion, untrustworthy, unreliable, undependable, questionable
    equivocal, ambiguous, indeterminate, indefinite, unclear, vague, imprecise, hazy, puzzling, enigmatic, cryptic
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1Morally suspect.
      ‘timeshare has been brought into disrepute by dubious sales methods’
      • ‘He just enjoys exploring the morally dubious aspects of it, and exploring difficult situations.’
      • ‘Philosophy aims only at the truth, not at mere persuasion regardless of truth, which is a dubious enterprise in both its intentions and its methods.’
      • ‘However, thanks to dubious sales techniques, it is widely mis-sold.’
      • ‘For a start, the whole idea of reciprocity and empowerment seems morally dubious to me.’
      • ‘It shows him as morally dubious - he wants the men to die so he can finish his book, but he pretends otherwise - and intellectually cold.’
      • ‘Even those which are imaginative and intelligently put together are often morally dubious.’
      • ‘The approach outline above seems to offer the best prospect for exposing the administration's dubious motives and methods.’
      • ‘But the public interest would not be served by people of dubious motives giving false information by doctoring the official record.’
      • ‘Last time I solved it myself by medically dubious methods and I'd rather not do that again!’
      • ‘David Weinberger has some interesting things to say about the game, and the morally dubious world it allows you to enter.’
      • ‘They are engaged in tax avoidance, which is entirely legal, though you might argue it's morally dubious.’
      • ‘The credit industry has been accused of using ‘sneaky tricks and dubious sales practices’ to boost profits.’
      • ‘Ray is not a good father, as evidenced by his empty fridge and dubious methods of interacting with his kids.’
      • ‘They weren't always on the side of good, and even when they were, they still regularly made morally dubious judgements, but they were always true to their natures.’
      • ‘Matters come to a head when the star is expelled from the team, leading to a climax at once disturbingly intense and morally dubious.’
      • ‘Like Den, he gets involved in dubious deals with shady characters, and the source of his money is not always entirely clear.’
      • ‘The result is a surreal, hypnotic journey into morally ambiguous territory, led by an increasingly dubious tour guide.’
      • ‘Characters are rootless, without orientation, almost unaware that their behaviour is morally dubious.’
      • ‘Before the war, the submarine was regarded as a morally dubious weapon, subject to international agreements.’
      • ‘I listed at the beginning the most usual procedures used to provide assistance in conception, but deferred discussion of the two methods that are most morally dubious.’
      suspicious, suspect, under suspicion, untrustworthy, unreliable, undependable, questionable
      View synonyms
    2. 2.2Of questionable value.
      ‘he holds the dubious distinction of being relegated with every club he has played for’
      • ‘In fact, so entrenched was the belief in many quarters that official statistics were of dubious value to social researchers that the view took root that they were virtually worthless.’
      • ‘In a time of government cutbacks, as a tax-payer I am unconvinced that we need to fund more programs of dubious value.’
      • ‘Aurillac, a lovely city at the foot of the Cantal mountains, has the dubious distinction of being the prefecture in France furthest from a motorway.’
      • ‘For an extended look at the dubious value of a humanities education in particular see here.’
      • ‘The knee-jerk reaction is to dismiss such training as faddish and of dubious value.’
      • ‘His primary sources include most if not all the standard references on the subject along with one or two of dubious value.’
      • ‘The region has the dubious distinction of having Europe's worst service station.’
      • ‘2004 will finish with a hat trick of games against the teams enjoying the dubious distinction of being below us in the league.’
      • ‘If so, that would give Florida the dubious distinction of getting hit by four of the six most costly hurricanes on record within six weeks.’
      • ‘And it spends billions each year in social welfare programs that are endlessly duplicative and of dubious value.’
      • ‘Tramore has drawn the short straw yet again and has the dubious distinction of hosting the final game of 2003 on Sunday, 28th December.’
      • ‘In fact, it could be argued that 15 Minutes earns the dubious distinction of being the most cynical film ever made about cynicism.’
      • ‘Is it perhaps yet another organisation designed to make money by providing endorsements of dubious value?’
      • ‘It's all in a good cause, people used to say, but Elizabeth felt that almost any action she took at this point would be of dubious value.’
      • ‘For these reasons, reflective foil on board insulation is of dubious value.’
      • ‘It has the dubious distinction of being probably the only luxury hotel in the world to be blown up by a future prime minister of its own country.’
      • ‘On the flip side, the district has the dubious distinction of registering the highest number of cases of atrocities against women.’
      • ‘Another Horsforth man claimed the dubious distinction of becoming the first English serviceman to be captured by the Germans - just one day after war broke out.’
      • ‘When it comes to sharing your faith, gimmicks are of dubious value.’
      • ‘O'Toole holds the dubious distinction of seven Best Actor Oscar nominations without winning the actual Oscar.’
      equivocal, ambiguous, indeterminate, indefinite, unclear, vague, imprecise, hazy, puzzling, enigmatic, cryptic
      View synonyms


Mid 16th century (in dubious): from Latin dubiosus, from dubium a doubt, neuter of dubius doubtful.