doubt·​ful ˈdau̇t-fəl How to pronounce doubtful (audio)
: lacking a definite opinion, conviction, or determination
They were doubtful about the advantages of the new system.
: uncertain in outcome : undecided
The outcome of the election remains doubtful.
: marked by qualities that raise doubts about worth, honesty, or validity
of doubtful repute
: giving rise to doubt or uncertainty : open to question
It is doubtful that they ever knew what happened.
a doubtful premise
doubtfully 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.
Recent Examples on the Web Still, some market onlookers are doubtful that the deal will go through. Marco Quiroz-Gutierrez, Fortune, 21 Feb. 2024 Nadia Bey, who lives in a social housing high-rise just a couple of blocks away was doubtful that the Olympic investments would improve her life. Catherine Porter, New York Times, 20 Feb. 2024 After Lisa said the group should attend the opening of her new restaurant Wolf in Lake Tahoe, California, Schwartz was doubtful if Ariana and Sandoval would attend together. Stephanie Wenger, Peoplemag, 14 Feb. 2024 That’s where the experts that IEEE Spectrum spoke to are generally doubtful, although many also see it as a necessary first step. IEEE Spectrum, 13 Feb. 2024 Taylor injured his ankle in the season finale and was announced as doubtful to return, then returned to carry the ball nine times on the final drive. The Indianapolis Star, 17 Jan. 2024 Forward Jimmy Butler, who has missed the past five games with a toe issue, was upgraded to doubtful. Ira Winderman, Sun Sentinel, 11 Jan. 2024 Developers and builders pitch build-to-rent homes as one solution; experts and residents are doubtful. Jaime Moore-Carrillo, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 9 Feb. 2024 In addition, Coby White is questionable for Saturday’s game against the Kings with left ankle soreness, Torrey Craig is questionable with a right plantar fascia sprain and Dalen Terry is doubtful with a right ankle sprain. Jason Anderson, Sacramento Bee, 3 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'doubtful.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


see doubt entry 1

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

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

Dictionary Entries Near doubtful

Cite this Entry

“Doubtful.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


doubt·​ful ˈdau̇t-fəl How to pronounce doubtful (audio)
: not clear or certain as to fact
a doubtful claim
: questionable sense 2
doubtful intentions
: undecided in opinion
: not certain in outcome
doubtfully adverb
doubtfulness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on doubtful

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