Definition of doubt in US English:



  • A feeling of uncertainty or lack of conviction.

    ‘some doubt has been cast upon the authenticity of this account’
    ‘they had doubts that they would ever win’
    • ‘The approach appears to be one of instilling fear, uncertainty and doubt in those who apply for rebates to which they are entitled.’
    • ‘Each relationship, until now, had doubt, anxiety, uncertainty, as their qualities.’
    • ‘It brought me into the realm of 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.’
    • ‘The viewers are not fools, they pick up on doubt and uncertainty on screen and hit the remote accordingly.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Discipline here reduces uncertainty, procrastination and doubt among suppliers.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Even the most assertive and level-headed woman may feel doubt or a certain lack of self-confidence.’
    • ‘Jonathan's face was a changing canvas of doubt, fear, uncertainty.’
    • ‘We call it a dialogue and not a debate because both economists acknowledge areas 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.’
    • ‘I expressed enthusiasm, and he, as usual, expressed some doubt and uncertainty.’
    • ‘Coupling feelings of doubt with low self-esteem leads to very dire consequences.’
    • ‘I can see the allure of clothing oneself in the armor of faith, to defend against the assault of doubt and uncertainty.’
    • ‘When he looked up at her, his eyes seemed filled with doubt and uncertainty.’
    • ‘Youthful, idealistic romance has grown into love, hopefulness into doubt, and anger into distance.’
    • ‘I fell victim to a sudden flash of doubt at my conviction that the Force didn't really exist.’
    uncertainty, lack of certainty, unsureness, indecision, hesitation, hesitancy, dubiousness, suspicion, confusion
    indecision, hesitation, diffidence, uncertainty, insecurity, inhibition, unease, uneasiness, apprehension
    scepticism, distrust, mistrust, lack of trust, doubtfulness, suspicion, cynicism, disbelief, incredulity, unbelief, misbelief, lack of confidence, lack of conviction, uneasiness, apprehension, wariness, chariness, questioning
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  • 1with object Feel uncertain about.

    ‘I doubt my ability to do the job’
    • ‘His ability as a ball carrier cannot be doubted by anybody who pays this game more than a passing glance.’
    • ‘Though he had fine words to say about democracy, in truth he doubted the ability of the people to act wisely.’
    • ‘Katy would never doubt her friend's incredible abilities again.’
    • ‘I seriously doubted my ability to drive so Mike and Christine came to my rescue again.’
    • ‘I constantly question his love, which has led to him doubting our relationship.’
    • ‘I have never doubted her ability to make a positive contribution to this community.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘She said she doubted its ability to run the service, and asked the Executive to start negotiations with other operators.’
    • ‘Is there anyone out there who still doubts this?’
    • ‘However, you can't doubt his ability to adjust, given his record.’
    • ‘So destructive was Vabaza that detractors doubted Shabani's boxing ability and called on Vabaza to prove himself against a more formidable fighter.’
    • ‘And he now doubts anything will happen until after the next presidential election.’
    • ‘It was hoped that the weight of celestial opinion would undermine his authority and cause him to doubt his own decision-making ability.’
    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. 1.1 Question the truth or fact of (something)
      ‘who can doubt the value of these services?’
      with clause ‘I doubt if anyone slept that night’
      • ‘Anybody who doubts this need only travel along the South Coast in the old Transkei and Ciskei, where traditional leaders still rule.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘If anyone doubted his right to be a Ryder Cup player, let alone a hero, that result speaks for itself.’
      • ‘They feel free to question the possibility of knowledge because they also doubt its value.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘If anyone doubted the BBC's bias before they'll surely be having second thoughts today.’
      • ‘It is your right to doubt the validity and truth of this site.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He doubts many more B.C. ferries will be built in B.C. shipyards.’
      • ‘Anyone who doubted this had only to look at the actual behaviour of human beings in all the societies in the world.’
      • ‘I do not doubt their sincerity or their integrity; what I question is the rationality of their theories and methods.’
      • ‘No one today doubts the theory of gravity, but in fact our scientific understanding of gravity is quite lacking.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘That extraction mission was made difficult by the circumstances and the fact that she doubted the validity of the operation.’
      • ‘I do not doubt your claim at all, but your question made me try to think of similar cases.’
      • ‘She, 44, said she never doubted her son's innocence, despite the fact police have identified him as their only suspect.’
      • ‘If anyone doubted his songwriting credentials, this sharply conceived social drama confirms his status as one of Britain's best.’
      • ‘In fact, he doubted her creditability, until she pulled out a map she had bought from one of the merchants in Sernual.’
      • ‘I doubted Conner had anyone out there other than his family.’
      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. 1.2 Disbelieve (a person or their word)
      ‘I have no reason to doubt him’
      • ‘For the record, he is an excellent teacher and we have never had any reason to doubt him.’
      • ‘He tells me, and I have no reason to doubt him, that at the end of the week all the money is gone.’
      • ‘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 maintains that he is not a cheat, and there is no reason to doubt him.’
      • ‘He doesn't trust me, though I never gave him reason to doubt me.’
      • ‘With a £750m share buyback and 7% dividend hike to underpin his faith in the strategy, they will have few reasons for doubting him.’
      • ‘The only reason to doubt him now is because yesterday's opponents provided an inadequate test.’
      • ‘Though she had no reason to doubt him, Helen decided more verification was necessary.’
      • ‘I had no reason to doubt him and had to work on the assumption he was armed.’
      • ‘He explained what he had seen and the other men, having already witnessed other events for themselves, had no reason to doubt him.’
      • ‘Nobody ever believes this story, so maybe if I put it in print, people will no longer doubt me.’
      • ‘So, when he says that he is resigning for personal reasons, I see no reason to doubt him.’
      • ‘You are better informed than me on this case and I have no reason to doubt you.’
      • ‘For some reason, I doubted Daniel would come home for Christmas.’
      • ‘Allen is a solid reporter so, at this time, I have no reason to doubt him.’
      • ‘A lot of people doubted him and said that he wasn't county material.’
      • ‘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.’
      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. 1.3no object Feel uncertain, especially about one's religious beliefs.
      • ‘But I have seen friends who once believed without doubting, and without testing those beliefs, slowly become more rational.’
      • ‘I became angry with myself for my blind belief in the Bus, and my reluctance to doubt before that minute.’
      • ‘In order to doubt or wonder about the provenance of his beliefs an agent must know what belief is.’
      • ‘The courage to believe is easy, with lots of respectable company, but I admire more the courage to doubt.’
      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 your contradictions’
    • ‘Doubt not, my lord, they shall be well opposed.’


  • beyond doubt

    • Allowing no uncertainty.

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

    • 1Open to question.

      ‘the outcome is no longer in doubt’
      • ‘Now the fairness of the pools questionnaire is in doubt before it has left the printers.’
      • ‘An American would ask: if you were going to leave in doubt the question of who's better, why did you play the game?’
      • ‘This has never been in doubt but we should have complete control over those who we intend to let in.’
      • ‘Throughout her career, her commitment was never in doubt and her courage beyond question.’
      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’
        • ‘If in doubt, don't guess: your doctor will be able to tell you whether the perforation has healed.’
        • ‘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?’
        • ‘She said anyone in doubt should consult a GP who had the charts showing height and weight and what are the healthy limits.’
        • ‘Anyone in doubt about the sensitivity of land matters needs only to look across our southern border.’
        • ‘He is a man alone who knows every detail but still seems in doubt about the meaning.’
        • ‘As a general rule, if in doubt, discard any dodgy outer leaves and wash well.’
        • ‘The events of the past are not in doubt; but the events of the future we can only guess.’
        • ‘When in doubt, whether about the point of discussion or your response, use silence.’
        • ‘The existence of the club appears in doubt unless players rally round.’
        irresolute, hesitant, tentative, vacillating, dithering, wavering, teetering, fluctuating, faltering, ambivalent, divided
        View synonyms
  • no doubt

    • 1Used to indicate the speaker's firm belief that something is true even if evidence is not given or available.

      ‘those who left were attracted, no doubt, by higher pay’
      • ‘All those who celebrate in this way no doubt regard theirs as a special occasion.’
      • ‘Skip has been there all day and will no doubt give a full update later when he returns.’
      • ‘There are certainly many employees around town who no doubt wish they would, if only for a day.’
      • ‘If the company had any claim to the plant, the position would no doubt be very different.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘If the lad is anything like his father he'll no doubt grow to be a man we both will be proud of.’
      • ‘The three are appealing against the extradition ruling and the case will no doubt go all the way.’
      • ‘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.’
        • ‘Many will no doubt disagree with me but imagine yourself in the following position.’
        • ‘She was guilty, no doubt, but as this immensely moving film makes clear, she was also heartbreakingly human.’
        doubtless, undoubtedly, indubitably, doubtlessly, without doubt, without a doubt, beyond doubt, beyond a doubt, beyond the shadow of a doubt
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  • without (a) doubt

    • Indisputably.

      ‘he was without doubt the very worst kind of reporter’
      • ‘Mary's bread is without doubt a firm favourite with the girls who devour it after each session.’
      • ‘Yet he is without doubt the best classical actor of his generation.’
      • ‘Tramore is without doubt the most naturally beautiful beach in the country if not the British Isles.’
      • ‘The second day of our two-day jaunt was spent in Stamford, without doubt one of the finest towns in England.’
      • ‘Arty is without doubt one of the finest and most sought-after guitar players in Ireland.’
      • ‘But without doubt a certain amount of grazing is important for breeding waders.’
      • ‘Herefordshire might be better known for its cattle, but without doubt its more pressing claim to fame is its cider.’
      • ‘His appointment was without doubt a defining moment in the history of the Daily Telegraph.’
      • ‘He is the best clay court player in the world, without a doubt, but it is the doubts that may scupper him.’
      • ‘It is without doubt one of the finest pieces of architecture in the county.’
      doubtless, undoubtedly, indubitably, doubtlessly, without doubt, without a doubt, beyond doubt, beyond a doubt, beyond the shadow of a doubt
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Middle English: from Old French doute (noun), douter (verb), from Latin dubitare ‘hesitate’, from dubius ‘doubtful’ (see dubious).