Definition of certainty in US English:



  • 1Firm conviction that something is the case.

    ‘she knew with absolute certainty that they were dead’
    • ‘However, we shall need to wait for a longer time series to conclude with certainty that the Canadian urban system is indeed heading to a new equilibrium.’
    • ‘The flip side of greater certainty that those with jobs will remain employed is greater certainty that the unemployed will remain unemployed.’
    • ‘I know with 100% certainty that my brother would have been safer sitting in his living room than being anywhere in Iraq.’
    • ‘Thus, they concluded with some certainty that the accused participated in the Halton incidents.’
    • ‘Darnay is ultimately saved when one witness' testimony hinges on the witness' certainty that he saw Darnay at a certain locale at a particular time.’
    • ‘But we look forward to the day when we can welcome your nation into the community of free societies of the world, for we know with deepest certainty that such a day will come.’
    • ‘The authors said they can say with certainty that there are a significant number of people at different stages of developing problems with heroin use/misuse.’
    • ‘All this is partly caused by, and certainly reinforces, that gut feeling of certainty that animates today's American right.’
    • ‘If the merger goes ahead, the North West Development Agency is expected to plough tens of millions of pounds into the new venture, reflecting their certainty that it will be good for the regional economy.’
    • ‘We cannot speak with authority and certainty that they are safe for the general public?’
    • ‘And I can state with certainty that old grey poets, especially those experiencing strange and discomforting interruptions in the creative process, do not like work.’
    • ‘But when that day finally arrives, we know with absolute certainty that she will be there with open arms to greet us, and our reunion as a family will be glorious.’
    • ‘She's also bringing a positive attitude and certainty that she'll have another exciting, successful show.’
    • ‘I have certainty that Jean-Pierre trusts me and is not going to shout because I did something bad.’
    • ‘He says this with such certainty that one might conclude he was a painter of solutions, that his art was one of formulas and rousing public appeals.’
    • ‘I trust with absolute certainty that compassion is the only possible response to pain.’
    • ‘Can anyone really say with complete certainty that they know ALL the facts about this?’
    • ‘This certainty that failure is the only outcome has been most pronounced among Labour politicians.’
    • ‘That is the direction in which things seem headed once more, as with just a few weeks to go before selection of the team for Down Under, no one could say with certainty that the best squad will be selected.’
    • ‘And my problem with those on the edges of politics, both on the far right and far left, is the self-righteous certainty that their view should be my view.’
    confidence, sureness, positiveness, conviction, certitude, reliability, assuredness, assurance, validity, conclusiveness, authoritativeness, truth, fact, factualness
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 The quality of being reliably true.
      ‘there is a bewildering lack of certainty and clarity in the law’
      • ‘We had thought, as we say in paragraph 3 of our skeleton argument, that it would aid clarity and certainty if your Lordships retained, in a sense, charge of the exact scope of the liberty to apply.’
      • ‘Another submitter - a large one from the South Island - raised the issue of the cost of significant investments, and the need for clarity and certainty about that.’
      • ‘The certainty and reliability of the Word of God was one central plank of the Fellowship.’
      • ‘This estimate is even on the high side because many exploration companies have left the country because of the inconsistency of government policy and lack of legal certainty.’
      • ‘The Assembly should show the government how to raise investments, such as what the government should do to assure domestic security and legal certainty.’
      • ‘But that said, we need to recognise that private foreign investment is extremely minimal in East Timor, and the reason for that is a total lack of certainty of titles.’
      • ‘Also, there is no absolute truth in Judaism and this lack of certainty is refreshing in a religious faith.’
      • ‘Lack of theoretical clarity and legal certainty in this matter hinders the institutionalization of these military-economic subsystems.’
      • ‘Others on the committee signalled that they were unhappy with that lack of clarity and certainty in the legislation, and I do so again now.’
      • ‘As the process of globalization draws us ever closer in networks of communication and exchange, there is an understandable longing for simplicity, clarity and certainty.’
      • ‘Therefore, you need to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue.’
      • ‘It is clear many Australians have concerns about electronic commerce, including issues such as legal certainty, security, authentication and privacy.’
      • ‘I do not think it is an unreasonable request of the Minister to add a small amount of clarity and certainty to the debate around the interpretation of clause 11 in Part 2.’
      • ‘He said most complaints stemmed from the high-cost economy, lack of legal certainty, damaged infrastructure and security disturbances.’
      • ‘In Attachment Theory the affective component is the key in the lock to release theoretical certainty but the true affective experience is unknown.’
      • ‘New Labour's lack of coherence and certainty means that it too can be buffeted about on waves of anxiety over terrorism or foot-and-mouth disease, so that the insecurity spreads from the top down.’
      • ‘And what the songs lack in structural certainty or melodic eloquence they usually make up for in the remarkable depth and vibrancy of their textures.’
      • ‘This legal option not only makes Scotland unique in the legal world but also highlights the most important fact concerning many trials - the absence of true certainty.’
      • ‘Experts have urged the government to ensure legal certainty and restore security in order to attract new investment to help cushion the country from the looming global economic slump.’
      • ‘It brings clarity and certainty to where it was lacking.’
    2. 1.2 A fact that is definitely true or an event that is definitely going to take place.
      ‘an immediate transfer would be a certainty’
      • ‘Mr Baxter underlined the fact there were no certainties at the moment and that any possible change would be years away.’
      • ‘But the fact that the outcome is a near certainty isn't the only reason the two main contenders are so low in the polls.’
      • ‘It's a stone cold certainty that neither woman will win but it's equally certain they won't be the last to try.’
      • ‘It would seem a certainty given the recent events north and south of the Border.’
      • ‘This is possibly due to the fact that cuss words are representative of the few certainties of life: birth and death.’
      • ‘Whether these prices drop fast enough to make the phone I propose practical before the technology is obsolete is, of course, far from a certainty…’
      • ‘The Chancellor last night attempted to seize the initiative by pledging to continue the reformist course set by Blair if he becomes leader, something widely seen within the Labour Party as a certainty.’
      • ‘If success is a certainty, where is the challenge?’
      • ‘The element of knowledge is an actual awareness but is not the knowledge of an existing fact or an inevitable certainty.’
      • ‘One speculates; the other not only states a rise as a certainty, it presents the fact unmoored from any other economic factors.’
      • ‘But their livelihood has been thrown into uncertainty by the threat of US strikes on Afghanistan and the near certainty that their business will slump as a result.’
      • ‘We're told there's no thing as a championship certainty, but with no disrespect to the seasiders its my belief that the titleholders are as near to that as makes no difference.’
      • ‘I think that a Toronto signing/reading/event is almost a certainty, but of what kind and nature I don't yet know.’
      • ‘This is not necessarily a certainty as the time limit for any buyer expired early last year according to the planning obligations which Persimmon agreed to.’
      • ‘That's a certainty; that's definitely going to happen.’
      • ‘As a woeful season comes to its inevitable end, I can only cling to two pathetic certainties, one sad, the other hopeful.’
      • ‘The club has no idea where it will be playing Second Division football come August but at least they'll still be around - not always a cast-iron certainty in the last nine months.’
      • ‘In fact it is a certainty if he continues to improve his overall game at the rate of which he has done over the past couple of seasons.’
      • ‘‘The Nobel prize is a certainty for the person who finds out the cause of Alzheimer's disease,’ Ms. Bedell says.’
      • ‘At heart, Brown probably agrees, but now that the referendum has been promised, it will have to be held, making it the overwhelming certainty that entry will be delayed for at least five more years.’
      inevitability, necessity, foregone conclusion, predictable result, matter of course, racing certainty
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3 A person or thing that may be relied on.
      ‘he was expected to be a certainty for a gold medal’
      • ‘The left-footed Daniel Carter is a certainty at fly-half and the All Blacks will have seen how the Crusaders cleverly used MacDonald's right foot to complement Carter.’
      • ‘Gardener is a virtual certainty for selection in the British team for the clash with Russia, Sweden and France in the New Year.’
      • ‘That was the first of three events counting towards selection and Ratcliffe seemed a certainty to qualify for a third Olympics.’
      • ‘The player's name, however, is an open secret with American John Daly, the 1995 British Open champion, a virtual certainty for the event.’
      • ‘At one stage, the quick-witted Kenmare contestant looked a certainty to be kicked off the island as he battled with rivals from the opposing team as well as one of his own team players.’
      • ‘Tullamore had steadily built a momentum by the time Ravenhill exited the sin bin and Naas did well to survive two raids down the clubhouse side when centre John Peters looked a certainty to score.’
      • ‘There could well be a tendency from both the west, east and south of Castlebar to bolster him up in the event of Michael and Jim being seen as certainties.’
      • ‘Having also been successful during the recent Australian series, Kumble appears to be a certainty in the playing eleven and his ability to bowl long spells will prove handy for the visitors.’
      • ‘That destination, this season, is, hopefully, Athens and while McConnell is a virtual certainty to make the team, Marshall is well aware of how much work still needs to be done if she is to join her.’
      • ‘Inconsistency prevents the Ulsterman from being a racing certainty at events such as these.’
      • ‘Having conceded just 17 frames in five matches at this event so far, he is a certainty to climb into the top 40 in the world after this tournament.’
      • ‘Inevitably, bully boy Elvis is a nailed-on certainty for the role.’
      • ‘A fit again Hickie is a virtual certainty for Eddie O'Sullivan's squad but Cullen and Miller have a fight on their hands to edge into the ultra competitive back-five arena.’
      • ‘David was a Scottish hero, the world champion cyclist who looked to be a certainty for an Olympic gold medal.’
      • ‘Four months ago, David Thompson was the man being touted as a certainty for England honours after some stunning performances for Rovers following his cut-price move from Coventry City.’
      • ‘He's far from a certainty at this stage but he's pulled up reasonably well.’
      • ‘At the start of the year, Stott was acclaimed as Scotland's Under- 21 player of the season and was being talked about as a certainty for the Great Britain Olympic squad for Athens.’
      • ‘Colm Begley came in to make a real impression again as an attacking half back and he looks a certainty to start against Offaly or Louth while Donie Brennan as always made his presence felt.’
      • ‘Woods, a certainty as the Tour's choice player for the past four years, did not have such a bad year himself with five wins in 18 tournaments but by his standards it was poor.’
      • ‘Benbaun looked a certainty for the Ballygallon Stud Renaissance Stakes after two wins here in the past three months and when Kieren Fallon kicked at halfway it looked all over bar the shouting.’


  • for a certainty

    • Beyond the possibility of doubt.

      • ‘If you are absolutely convinced of Sarah's truthfulness - and you have no reason not to be - you do not know, for a certainty, that John committed the assault.’
      • ‘Because you now know for a certainty that your husband is not to be trusted or believed, you need to decide if the marriage is viable and if you can live with his games.’
      • ‘Finally, I say, yes, for a certainty, we are all going to die, but since we've already paid, hopefully not until we get our sandwiches.’
      • ‘It was possibly two years off; but no one could know this, not for a certainty, and not even for a probability.’
      • ‘On numerous occasions the diarist vented his frustration with passages like, ‘Without [Churchill] England was lost for a certainty, with him England has been on the verge of disaster time and time again.’’
      • ‘Thus, very many things happen every day when we talk the language of the sense of sight even though we know for a certainty that the situation is otherwise.…’
      • ‘Because then, Chris knew for a certainty, she would never see Jason again.’
      • ‘For authors, their already meagre earnings will be eroded, and publishers, for a certainty, will become even less willing than they currently are to take risks with creative material.’
      • ‘But I know for a certainty that Mary-Ellen and I are done.’
      • ‘You will never be able to know for a certainty, however, whether or not he dresses up in a sheet on weekends.’


Middle English: from Old French certainete, from certain (see certain).