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

Definition of doubtful

1 : giving rise to doubt or uncertainty : open to question It is doubtful that they ever knew what happened. a doubtful premise
2a : 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.
3 : marked by qualities that raise doubts about worth, honesty, or validity of doubtful repute

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Other Words from doubtful

doubtfully \ ˈdau̇t-​fə-​lē How to pronounce doubtfully (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

But McGregor and Sterling-Angus are doubtful these strategies will ultimately result in sustainable relationships. Zoe Schiffer, Vox, "The dating algorithm that gives you just one match," 11 July 2019 But like Ma, others too are doubtful that such efforts to show accountability will be forthcoming, given Lam’s unwavering support for the police so far. Ilaria Maria Sala, Quartz, "Hong Kong’s last major riots reshaped the city into the one we know today," 9 July 2019 Whether making this kind of information public will push prices down is doubtful. The Economist, "Will transparent pricing make America’s health care cheaper?," 28 June 2019 Commenting on the lawsuit against Harvard that has captured the attention of the nation, Feldman is doubtful that Harvard’s affirmative-action program is the reason why more Asian-Americans had not been admitted to the university. Noah Feldman, The New York Review of Books, "Arguing Affirmative Action," 7 Feb. 2019 Mahajan is well-cast in the leading role for this kind of doubtful wandering, but can’t hold the film together all by himself. Deborah Young, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Trijya - Radius': Film Review | Shanghai 2019," 1 July 2019 The Wings entered the market with veteran defensemen Danny DeKeyser, Mike Green, Jonathan Ericsson and Trevor Daley under contract, but the injury history of Daley and Ericsson makes their status doubtful for next season. Helene St. James, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Red Wings NHL free agency: Valtteri Filppula, Patrik Nemeth, Calvin Pickard in the fold," 22 June 2019 What’s doubtful is the sincerity of those Republicans who spoke to him. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "Someone Please Tell Joe Biden That Bipartisanship Is Dead," 12 June 2019 When Stephanie first entertained the idea of being an artist, her mother was doubtful about the opportunities that would be ahead, telling Stephanie that no one looks like her on stage. Gabe Bergado, Teen Vogue, "Stephanie Hsu Is Using the Zany, Magic Power of "Be More Chill" to Transform Broadway," 24 Apr. 2019

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 1

History and Etymology for doubtful

see doubt entry 1

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Statistics for doubtful

Last Updated

19 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for doubtful

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

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on doubtful

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for doubtful

Spanish Central: Translation of doubtful

Nglish: Translation of doubtful for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of doubtful for Arabic Speakers

Comments on doubtful

What made you want to look up doubtful? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


appealing forcibly to the mind or reason

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