Definition of doubtful in English:



  • 1Feeling uncertain about something.

    ‘he looked doubtful, but gave a nod’
    ‘I was doubtful of my judgment’
    • ‘I was doubtful of their success, but it was worth a try.’
    • ‘Don't manipulate the academic system on behalf of your child; it makes kids guilty and doubtful of their own ability.’
    • ‘He is equally doubtful of my assertion that the modern knowledge society can go on satisfying growing human wants, including our aspiration to preserve a liveable environment.’
    • ‘I'm very doubtful of an intervention scenario, if he truly is bipolar.’
    • ‘But an American official who has been privately doubtful of the Administration's commitment to the peace process now echoes this view.’
    • ‘After she was told about the fierce competition in the modeling world in Jakarta, Nike, was briefly silent and seemed doubtful of her plans.’
    • ‘She was very doubtful of her own abilities, always had been.’
    • ‘When they finally arrived on the twenty-fifth floor, the couple stepped out hesitantly, doubtful of good news.’
    • ‘Today's doctors, in contrast, are uncertain of their role and doubtful of their abilities and are viewed with increasing suspicion by the population.’
    • ‘I'm still wavering, still feeling incredibly doubtful of the situation.’
    • ‘It was clear that she was doubtful of our ability to win, as well.’
    • ‘A lender doubtful of the borrower's ability to repay may take security over some or all of the company's assets.’
    • ‘I'm also doubtful of so many things that I previously thought were true.’
    • ‘These letters are merely intended to wreck our solidarity and create an impression that we are doubtful of our stance.’
    • ‘I was starting to feel a little doubtful of my previous thoughts, but wasn't completely sure either way.’
    • ‘When the radio program went ‘on the air’ a few minutes later, I at once made it clear that I was highly doubtful of the claims of graphology.’
    • ‘She had grown insecure and doubtful of herself.’
    • ‘They are doubtful of her being reunited with Ollie, after waiting more than two weeks for his return.’
    • ‘Lorentz wrote a paper in 1886 where he criticised Michelson's experiment and really was not worried by the experimental result which he dismissed being doubtful of its accuracy.’
    • ‘Remember also that most people, despite their confident appearance and demeanor, are often as scared as you are and as doubtful of themselves.’
    irresolute, hesitant, tentative, vacillating, dithering, wavering, teetering, fluctuating, faltering, ambivalent, divided, in doubt, unsure, uncertain, in two minds, shilly-shallying, undecided, indefinite, unresolved, in a dilemma, in a quandary, undetermined
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  • 2Not known with certainty.

    ‘the fire was of doubtful origin’
    • ‘It was so novel a thing to undertake observations in reliance upon merely theoretical deductions; and that while much labour was certain, success appeared very doubtful.’
    • ‘Upon evidence, licences will be taken from companies alleged of dealing with goods of doubtful and undeclared origin.’
    • ‘Four substantial panels (two of doubtful origin) and the predella, or figured plinth, remain.’
    • ‘Yet I previously accepted as wholly certain and evident many things which I afterwards realized were doubtful.’
    • ‘This is doubtful and certainly should not be assumed.’
    • ‘Tilloid is a term used for till-like deposits of doubtful but probably non-glacial origin.’
    • ‘Certainly the sale of BT Wireless now looks doubtful.’
    • ‘The cause is of doubtful origin at the moment and it's too early to say if it was arson.’
    • ‘We shot him doubtful looks, certain that the country that gave the world the deep-fried pizza would be incapable of producing anything near the standard of a Mint Slice.’
    in doubt, dubious, uncertain, open to question, questionable, unsure, unconfirmed, not definite, unknown, unsettled, undecided, unresolved, debatable, open to debate, moot, in the balance, pending, in limbo, in no man's land, up in the air
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    1. 2.1Improbable.
      [with clause] ‘it is doubtful whether these programs have any lasting effect’
      • ‘It was doubtful whether the serious traveller bothered himself too much about such things as power failures, which were part of life and can happen anywhere.’
      • ‘It is doubtful whether future funding would allow both Cross-rail and the electrification of the Caldervale lines to be simultaneously undertaken.’
      • ‘And it is doubtful whether the beach will ever regain its Blue Flag status unless the sewerage facility in the seaside town is brought up to standard.’
      • ‘Important though parish and town boundaries are for many reasons, it is doubtful whether occupants of vehicles are interested in where these boundaries lie.’
      • ‘In a city where almost roadside bin is overflowing with uncleared garbage, it's extremely doubtful whether the authorities will be successful in implementation.’
      • ‘But I am very doubtful about whether the ongoing debate, in the blogs and mailing lists and conferences, is actually taking us anywhere interesting.’
      • ‘It is doubtful whether the minister's plan to find, train, equip and deploy retirees was superior to boosting the resources of the regular police to perform the same function.’
      • ‘Later, when the usefulness of pretence had passed, people would be allowed to wave their children off, although it is doubtful whether this rendered the moment any less painful.’
      • ‘Mobile's storyline is rather predictable and it's doubtful whether the show would work as a stage-bound, non-mobile monologue.’
      • ‘However, it is doubtful whether any privately financed development scheme would be viable.’
      • ‘Without official status or a whopping pot of prize-money and appearance fees, it is doubtful whether this event could have been staged.’
      • ‘And with school districts already pinching their pennies, it's doubtful whether they'll pony up the dough.’
      • ‘The fruits on my farm were ready for harvesting but I left them on the trees because it was doubtful whether they would reach the market and if the market would be open given the bandhs and processions in the city.’
      • ‘But when you ask it citizens, they tend to be rather doubtful whether it is actually going to work.’
      • ‘It is doubtful whether our younger generation can figure them out.’
      • ‘Once again, he left the district clear in his own mind that much remained to be done; so much so that it was doubtful whether the Americans were making any progress at all.’
      • ‘And many in the music industry are doubtful about whether the man dubbed ‘Wacko Jacko’ will ever regain his king of pop status.’
      • ‘It is doubtful whether all the ministers or other public men and officials have been submitting mandatory annual statements of their income and assets to the government.’
      • ‘Referring to the incident, he says he enjoys the camaraderie his readers share with him, but he is doubtful whether a writer should instantly react to issues like this.’
      • ‘It is doubtful whether tomorrow's victor will reach quite those lofty heights, but No Kidding is a horse with a bright future, nevertheless, and he is fancied to oblige.’
      unlikely, improbable, not likely, dubious, unthinkable, implausible, impossible, far-fetched, inconceivable, unimaginable, remote, beyond the bounds of possibility
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    2. 2.2Not established as genuine or acceptable.
      ‘of doubtful legality’
      • ‘The fact that the patient's consent is the crucial factor means that the practice of informing relatives of a patient's diagnosis without first seeking consent to do so is of doubtful legality.’
      • ‘The streets here were painted gold; whether it was genuine was doubtful, but it was supremely glamorous.’
      • ‘It also did not make clear that doubtful or disputed cases should be referred to the courts.’
      • ‘After discounting doubtful data, C-values for 62 pteridophyte species remained acceptable for analysis.’
      • ‘Controversy is an inevitable element of medical progress, but sometimes it degenerates into doubtful disputations.’
      • ‘This edict was itself of doubtful legality, for it revoked an 1865 law, but was signed by the Tsar on presentation by the minister of the interior.’
      • ‘Though the method by which he was brought to Israel was of doubtful legality, there has been general acceptance that Israel had the right to assert jurisdiction over offences committed in Germany.’
      unlikely, improbable, not likely, dubious, unthinkable, implausible, impossible, far-fetched, inconceivable, unimaginable, remote, beyond the bounds of possibility
      questionable, arguable, disputable, debatable, open to question, open to debate, subject to debate, controversial, contentious, open to doubt, in doubt, dubious, borderline
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