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

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 Neighboring countries are doubtful about America’s commitment to a political resolution. Time, "Defense Secretary Jim Mattis Says Victory in Afghanistan Will Now Be 'Political' Instead of Military," 13 Mar. 2018 Dani Carvajal was forced off in the Champions League semi-final against Bayern Munich and is expected to miss out, whilst Rafael Varane and Isco remain doubtful., "Barcelona vs Real Madrid Preview: Classic Encounter, Key Battle, Team News & More," 5 May 2018 Still, maritime experts polled by the Norwegian media are doubtful the ship can return to operational status. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Norway’s Ruined Frigate Is Afloat Again and It Doesn't Look Good," 15 Apr. 2019 Iguodala, who banged his left knee during the fourth quarter of Sunday's win, was upgraded from doubtful to questionable after an MRI exam earlier Tuesday on the knee revealed no structural damage. Janie Mccauley,, "James Harden scores 30 as Rockets even series with Warriors at 2 games apiece," 22 May 2018 The Spurs downgraded Parker from doubtful to out after the shootaround. Tom Orsborn, San Antonio Express-News, "Parker expects to return Saturday night," 11 Jan. 2018 China has claimed an advantage in this area, having apparently already mounted a railgun on a ship while the equivalent U.S. Navy program will not go to sea until at least 2020 (and even that looks doubtful). David Hambling, Popular Mechanics, "What You Need to Know About the South China Sea, the World's Next Hot Spot," 27 Feb. 2019 Kushner had also been banking on Saudi Arabia, and his pal MBS, to help advance the plan — but the future of that also seemed pretty doubtful even before the Khashoggi fallout. Jen Kirby, Vox, "The 7 biggest foreign news stories to watch in 2019, from Brexit to North Korea," 24 Dec. 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

7 Jun 2019

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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

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