du·​bi·​ous | \ ˈdü-bē-əs How to pronounce dubious (audio) also dyü- \

Definition of dubious

1 : unsettled in opinion : doubtful I was dubious about the plan.
2 : giving rise to uncertainty: such as
a : of doubtful promise or outcome a dubious plan
b : questionable or suspect as to true nature or quality the practice is of dubious legality

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Other Words from dubious

dubiously adverb
dubiousness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for dubious

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

There's No Uncertainty Around the Definition of Dubious

Dubious derives from the Latin verb dubare, meaning "to hesitate in choice of opinions or courses," and it is related to the Latin word for "two": duo. Dubious can be used to indicate uncertainty about the result of an action or the truth of a statement as well as about the uncertainty of a person and his or her character. In either case, it usually implies a feeling of doubt from suspicion, mistrust, or hesitation.

Examples of dubious in a Sentence

The recent rumbles and ruptures in the financial markets are finally making people reassess the dubious systems of credit that have arisen in the past few years. — William Safire, New York Times Magazine, 19 Aug. 2007 Thus, the translation of the Latin word biographus as "a biography," and the limitation of "biographies" to written, printed histories of men, was perhaps inevitable. Poor Dryden was given the dubious honor of being the first to use the generic term—despite the fact that his phrase had been taken out of the context of biographical compilers, in a discussion of Plutarch. — Nigel Hamilton, Biography, 2007 That indeed is the crux of the matter. Today especially, when community-oriented policing is being introduced everywhere, it seems not only ethically dubious but self-defeating to engage in practices that at their best undermine trust and cooperation between citizens and law-enforcement officials and at their worst foster cynicism toward our legal system. — Edwin Dobb, Harper's, May 2002 To avoid fees, the new "relationship" minimum for checking accounts jumped from $2000 to as much as $6000. And what would customers get in exchange? The ability to take advantage of such a dubious new benefit as a consolidated monthly statement. Consumer Reports, March 1996 He made the highly dubious claim that Elvis is still alive and living in Hawaii. a man of dubious character
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Recent Examples on the Web Special counsel Robert Mueller’s constitutionally dubious claims that President Trump committed obstruction of justice? Kimberley A. Strassel, WSJ, "William Barr: ‘One Standard of Justice’," 18 Dec. 2020 The relationship has been strained this year by a stream of dubious claims about the pandemic issuing from Hoover Institution fellows, especially Atlas. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, "Column: COVID-19 falsehoods lead Stanford to examine ties to right-wing Hoover Institution," 17 Nov. 2020 Similarly, some Republicans who have criticized their colleagues have received kid glove treatment when making dubious claims about their past support for the president. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, "Trump Still Has Cable News," 12 Jan. 2021 Richland County, southwest of Cleveland and home to Mansfield, was downgraded Thursday to red on Ohio’s Public Health Advisory System after having held the dubious distinction of being the the only part of the state that was Level 4, or purple. cleveland, "This week’s coronavirus advisory map shows no purple counties, though most the state a sea of red," 24 Dec. 2020 Texas is neck-and-neck with California for the dubious distinction ofbeing the state with thelargest number of COVID-19 cases, about 1.2 million, according to Johns Hopkins University's coronavirus tracker. Chris Woodyard, USA TODAY, "These four states have been hit hard by COVID-19 yet balked at strict mask mandates. What is it like to live there?," 1 Dec. 2020 Known for showing up at homicide scenes in the dead of night dressed in his trademark fedora, Sanders had a way of coaxing information from all varieties of reluctant, dubious and shifty characters. Kevin Fagan, SFChronicle.com, "Earl Sanders, first Black San Francisco police chief, dies at 83," 11 Jan. 2021 Well, there’s the dubious but persistent idea that big slugs buck brush, but more important, trackers want their bullets to hit hard and make a big hole, which leaves a heavier blood trail. Dave Hurteau, Field & Stream, "6 Classic Rifles for Tracking Deer," 18 Dec. 2020 Inside a debate carried on in such flawed and dubious terms, there is no engagement with how people speak and live their daily lives. Melissa Gira Grant, The New Republic, "The Dangerous Inversions of the Debate Around Trans “Censorship”," 23 Nov. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'dubious.' 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 dubious

1548, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for dubious

Latin dubius, from dubare to vacillate; akin to Latin duo two — more at two

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Time Traveler for dubious

Time Traveler

The first known use of dubious was in 1548

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Last Updated

19 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Dubious.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dubious. Accessed 3 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for dubious



English Language Learners Definition of dubious

: unsure or uncertain : feeling doubt about something
: causing doubt, uncertainty, or suspicion : likely to be bad or wrong
used ironically in phrases like dubious honor and dubious distinction to describe something bad or undesirable as if it were an honor or achievement


du·​bi·​ous | \ ˈdü-bē-əs How to pronounce dubious (audio) , ˈdyü- \

Kids Definition of dubious

1 : causing doubt : uncertain Our plans are dubious at this point.
2 : feeling doubt I was dubious about our chances.
3 : questionable sense 1 … they all began discussing dragon-slayings historical, dubious, and mythical …— J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

Other Words from dubious

dubiously adverb

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