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adjective du·bi·ous \ˈdü-bē-əs also dyü-\

Simple Definition of dubious

  • : unsure or uncertain : feeling doubt about something

  • : causing doubt, uncertainty, or suspicion : likely to be bad or wrong

  • —used ironically in phrases like dubious honor and dubious distinction to describe something bad or undesirable as if it were an honor or achievement

Full Definition of dubious

  1. 1 :  giving rise to uncertainty: as a :  of doubtful promise or outcome <a dubious plan> b :  questionable or suspect as to true nature or quality <the practice is of dubious legality>

  2. 2 :  unsettled in opinion :  doubtful <I was dubious about the plan>

du·bi·ous·ly adverb
du·bi·ous·ness noun

Examples of dubious

  1. The recent rumbles and ruptures in the financial markets are finally making people reassess the dubious systems of credit that have arisen in the past few years. —William Safire, New York Times Magazine, 19 Aug. 2007

  2. Thus, the translation of the Latin word biographus as “a biography,” and the limitation of “biographies” to written, printed histories of men, was perhaps inevitable. Poor Dryden was given the dubious honor of being the first to use the generic term—despite the fact that his phrase had been taken out of the context of biographical compilers, in a discussion of Plutarch. —Nigel Hamilton, Biography, 2007

  3. That indeed is the crux of the matter. Today especially, when community-oriented policing is being introduced everywhere, it seems not only ethically dubious but self-defeating to engage in practices that at their best undermine trust and cooperation between citizens and law-enforcement officials and at their worst foster cynicism toward our legal system. —Edwin Dobb, Harper's, May 2002

  4. To avoid fees, the new “relationship” minimum for checking accounts jumped from $2000 to as much as $6000. And what would customers get in exchange? The ability to take advantage of such a dubious new benefit as a consolidated monthly statement. —Consumer Reports, March 1996

  5. He made the highly dubious claim that Elvis is still alive and living in Hawaii.

  6. a man of dubious character

Origin of dubious

Latin dubius, from dubare to vacillate; akin to Latin duo two — more at two

First Known Use: 1548

Synonym Discussion of dubious

doubtful, dubious, problematic, questionable mean not affording assurance of the worth, soundness, or certainty of something. doubtful implies little more than a lack of conviction or certainty <doubtful about whether I said the right thing>. dubious stresses suspicion, mistrust, or hesitation <dubious about the practicality of the scheme>. problematic applies especially to things whose existence, meaning, fulfillment, or realization is highly uncertain <whether the project will ever be finished is problematic>. questionable may imply no more than the existence of doubt but usually suggests that the suspicions are well-grounded <a man of questionable honesty>.

Rhymes with dubious

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February 9, 2016

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