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 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 there are reasons beyond Trump's crumbling Electoral College fortress to be optimistic about the party's chances in the fall, and doubtful of a 2016 repeat. David Faris, TheWeek, "How Trump lost his Electoral College edge to Biden," 12 May 2020 Westbrook is listed as doubtful to play against the Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday because of a sprained left thumb, Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said. Jonathan Feigen, Houston Chronicle, "Rockets' Russell Westbrook doubtful to play Tuesday," 3 Feb. 2020 Game notes: Blake Griffin (left knee) is doubtful to play against his former team. Marlowe Alter, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Pistons vs. Los Angeles Clippers: Time, TV, game info," 2 Jan. 2020 For the Red Devils, running back Isaac Ferguson seems doubtful to play next week. David J. Kim, The Courier-Journal, "Jeffersonville, Floyd Central set for a rematch, Providence advances to sectional finals," 2 Nov. 2019 The team’s leading running back, Sony Michel, is doubtful to play while tight end Rob Gronkowski, who leads the team in receiving yards, missed last week’s game against the Bears with a back injury. Andrew Beaton, WSJ, "The Patriots’ Best Receiver Is a Running Back," 28 Oct. 2018 Stevens said Brown is doubtful to play Thursday, too. Marcus Hayes,, "Just like the Eagles won hurt, the diminished Celtics are trying to beat the Sixers | Marcus Hayes," 2 May 2018 Whether Beijing can muster the will to ban the newish problem of urban wet markets is doubtful, but the Chinese people may take a hand here too. Holman W. Jenkins, WSJ, "The Cure for the Chinese Flu," 28 Jan. 2020 Nationals who are allowed in can expect 14-day quarantines, in Hong Kong and Singapore monitored by smartphone app, though those apps’ efficacy may be doubtful. Adam Rogers, Wired, "The Asian Countries That Beat Covid-19 Have to Do It Again," 6 Apr. 2020

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

23 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Doubtful.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 31 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for doubtful


How to pronounce doubtful (audio)

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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Comments on doubtful

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