doubt·​ful | \ˈdau̇t-fəl \

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 \-​fə-​lē \ 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

News reports that with Bieber's recent public sightings with model Baskin Champion, Gomez is feeling doubtful that Jelena will be rekindling their relationship any time soon. Megan Decker, Harper's BAZAAR, "Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber’s “Break” Is Apparently Turning Into a Breakup," 27 Mar. 2018 Golden State Warriors forward Andre Iguodala is doubtful to play in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals against the Houston Rockets with knee soreness, The Athletic's Anthony Slater reports. Nihal Kolur,, "Andre Iguodala Doubtful for Game 4 With Knee Soreness," 21 May 2018 Milwaukee Bucks center John Henson is still listed as doubtful with back soreness in the latest injury report before Game 6 against the Boston Celtics at the BMO Harris Bradley Center on Thursday night. Ben Steele, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Bucks center John Henson takes part in morning shootaround before Game 6," 26 Apr. 2018 The past seven months are doubtful to have placed Sporting Kansas City’s front office in a more giving mood. Sam Mcdowell, kansascity, "Krisztian Nemeth is reportedly available via trade. Is Sporting KC interested? | The Kansas City Star," 8 Mar. 2018 The McCutchen trade doesn't significantly alter the likelihood of a trade, according to multiple sources familiar with the negotiations, but a deal was looking doubtful anyway. Zach Buchanan,, "How the Andrew McCutchen trade affects Billy Hamilton," 16 Jan. 2018 Tone says, with some fearing boycotts by American Catholics and others doubtful that women would even be interested. Carolyn Todd, Allure, "The History and Evolution of Birth Control in America," 12 July 2018 Rodrigo Lasmar, the team doctor, admitted that left-back Marcelo remained doubtful for inclusion in the squad to face Mexico, while winger Douglas Costa is definitely out., "Brazil's Danilo Set to Return for Mexico Clash But Marcelo Doubtful and Douglas Costa Ruled Out," 1 July 2018 The governments of Myanmar and Bangladesh agreed in November to work toward the same goal, though human rights groups remain doubtful that the safe and sustainable return of some 700,000 Rohingya can be guaranteed. Casey Quackenbush, Time, "Myanmar Military Officials Implicated in Crimes Against Humanity for Role in Rohingya Violence," 28 June 2018

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

25 Oct 2018

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 \

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).


a nest or breeding place

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