doubt·​ful | \ ˈdau̇t-fəl How to pronounce doubtful (audio) \

Definition of doubtful

1a : lacking a definite opinion, conviction, or determination They were doubtful about the advantages of the new system.
b : uncertain in outcome : undecided The outcome of the election remains doubtful.
2 : marked by qualities that raise doubts about worth, honesty, or validity of doubtful repute
3 : giving rise to doubt or uncertainty : open to question It is doubtful that they ever knew what happened. a doubtful premise

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Other Words from doubtful

doubtfully \ ˈdau̇t-​fə-​lē How to pronounce doubtful (audio) \ adverb
doubtfulness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for doubtful

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

Examples of doubtful in a Sentence

I tried to reassure them, but they remained doubtful. The truth of the statements was doubtful. Their decisions were based on data of doubtful accuracy.
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Recent Examples on the Web First though, the band that everybody would start with but, to me, is doubtful. Steve Baltin, Forbes, 1 June 2021 Some critics are doubtful, seeing the proposals as government overreach into matters better left to parents. WSJ, 20 May 2021 Data users who were frustrated or even doubtful came to trust the numbers. Kara Schechtman, The Atlantic, 25 May 2021 Lavigne is doubtful that Formosa will hire people from her community, besides for low-paying security work—a perspective her parish councilman, Clyde Cooper, shares. Anya Groner, The Atlantic, 7 May 2021 Real Madrid’s defensive talisman Sergio Ramos missed the first leg with injury and is still a doubtful starter despite being included in the squad in London. Tim Bielik, cleveland, 5 May 2021 With the rate of vaccinations slowing and more contagious variants of the virus popping up, some scientists are doubtful the U.S. will ever reach herd immunity. Jack Brewster, Forbes, 5 May 2021 Dallas listed the 7-3 forward as doubtful for Tuesday’s matchup against the Miami Heat with right knee soreness. Joey Hayden, Dallas News, 3 May 2021 Federico and Gonzalo Higuaín are doubtful against Nashville SC after leaving South Florida earlier this week to be with their family after their mother’s death. Khobi Price,, 1 May 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'doubtful.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of doubtful

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for doubtful

see doubt entry 1

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Time Traveler for doubtful

Time Traveler

The first known use of doubtful was in the 14th century

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Statistics for doubtful

Last Updated

9 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Doubtful.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for doubtful



English Language Learners Definition of doubtful

: uncertain or unsure about something
: not likely to be true : not probable
: likely to be bad : not worthy of trust


doubt·​ful | \ ˈdau̇t-fəl How to pronounce doubtful (audio) \

Kids Definition of doubtful

1 : undecided or unsure about something I'm doubtful we'll make it on time. Minli was a little doubtful about riding the dragon.— Grace Lin, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon
2 : not likely to be true a doubtful claim
3 : not likely to be good doubtful quality
4 : not certain in outcome a doubtful future

Other Words from doubtful

doubtfully \ -​fə-​lē \ adverb


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