sure

1 of 2

adjective

ˈshu̇r How to pronounce sure (audio)
ˈshər,
 especially Southern  ˈshȯr
surer; surest
1
a
: marked by or given to feelings of confident certainty
I'm sure I'm right
b
: characterized by a lack of wavering or hesitation
sure brush strokes
a sure hand
2
: admitting of no doubt : indisputable
spoke from sure knowledge
3
a
: bound, destined
is sure to win
b
: bound to happen : inevitable
sure disaster
4
: careful to remember, attend to, or find out something
be sure to lock the door
5
: firmly established : steadfast
a sure hold
6
: reliable, trustworthy
a sure friend
7
obsolete : safe from danger or harm
sureness noun

sure

2 of 2

adverb

: surely
Sure vs. Surely: Usage Guide

Most commentators consider the adverb sure to be something less than completely standard; surely is usually recommended as a substitute. Our current evidence shows, however, that sure and surely have become differentiated in use. Sure is used in much more informal contexts than surely. It is used as a simple intensive

I can never know how much I bored her, but, be certain, she sure amused me Norman Mailer

and, because it connotes strong affirmation, it is used when the speaker or writer expects to be agreed with.

it's a moot point whether politicians are less venal than in Twain's day. But they're sure as the devil more intrusive Alan Abelson
he sure gets them to play D. S. Looney

Surely, like sure, is used as a simple intensive

I surely don't want to leave the impression that I had an unhappy childhood E. C. Welsh

but it occurs in more formal contexts than sure. Unlike sure it may be used neutrally—the reader or hearer may or may not agree

it would surely be possible, within a few years, to program a computer to construct a grammar Noam Chomsky

and it is often used when the writer is trying to persuade.

surely a book on the avant-garde cannot be so conventional Karl Shapiro

Phrases
for sure
: without doubt or question : certainly
to be sure
: it must be acknowledged : admittedly
Choose the Right Synonym for sure

sure, certain, positive, cocksure mean having no doubt or uncertainty.

sure usually stresses the subjective or intuitive feeling of assurance.

felt sure that I had forgotten something

certain may apply to a basing of a conclusion or conviction on definite grounds or indubitable evidence.

police are certain about the cause of the fire

positive intensifies sureness or certainty and may imply opinionated conviction or forceful expression of it.

I'm positive that's the person I saw

cocksure implies presumptuous or careless positiveness.

you're always so cocksure about everything

Example Sentences

Adjective She's not sure who will be there. Are you sure you want to go? Are you sure about that? She'll be there, I'm sure of it. Are you sure of the results? The return of the robins is a sure sign of spring. The letter is a sure indication that she cares. Pizza is a sure crowd pleaser. The surest way to lose weight is with diet and exercise. One sure way to improve your health is to stop smoking. Adverb we sure could use your help here See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
To be sure there were some that didn’t see slavery as a moral and political issue, but the disputes were overshadowed by the massive grassroots movement, full of everyday people organizing themselves to liberate enslaved human beings. William A. Schambra And Bob Woodson, WSJ, 6 Feb. 2023 To be sure, the Grammys, lately lacking the formality of the Academy Awards or even the Emmys, have become a tricky occasion for which to dress. Ashley Fetters Maloy, Washington Post, 6 Feb. 2023 Always be sure to check the instructions on the care label. Saryn Chorney, Travel + Leisure, 6 Feb. 2023 To be sure, there has been some encouraging new developments over the last year or two. Michael Sheldrick, Forbes, 5 Feb. 2023 And be sure to check back here for live updates throughout the night. Vogue, 5 Feb. 2023 This planning might include training nurses on how to give the drug and making sure prescribing doctors know how to recognize candidates for it. Tom Murphy, Chicago Tribune, 4 Feb. 2023 To be sure, there are some interesting names in that mix. Alex Speier, BostonGlobe.com, 4 Feb. 2023 About six years in, H&R Block has seen a return to growth—modest, to be sure but growth nonetheless. Phil Wahba, Fortune, 3 Feb. 2023
Adverb
Monday's Schiaparelli show in Paris sure did cause a stir. Hedy Phillips, Peoplemag, 24 Jan. 2023 Jervis adds that another intent of the rule involves capturing unreported income and making sure more people pay their share of taxes. Robert Farrington, Forbes, 24 Jan. 2023 Tom Brady sure didn’t want to hang around Raymond James Stadium Monday night. Nicole Yang, BostonGlobe.com, 17 Jan. 2023 The juggling act would be making sure a new pension system could work without causing the state to go broke, Stevens said. Sean Maguire, Anchorage Daily News, 14 Jan. 2023 As sure a thing as death and taxes is Porter bringing the drama on a red carpet with striking outside-the-box formalwear. Barbara Vandenburgh, USA TODAY, 12 Jan. 2023 Go for a run, walk, hike or swim—pretty sure the scenery outside is better than the view at the local gym. Noel Cody, Essence, 9 Jan. 2023 No doubt and these words of wisdom sure hit home at the moment. Bryant Stamford, The Courier-Journal, 6 Jan. 2023 The focus for Taylor is now making sure a coin flip never happens by beating the Ravens on Sunday. Michael Niziolek, cleveland, 6 Jan. 2023 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sure.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

Etymology

Adjective

Middle English seur, sure, from Anglo-French seur, from Latin securus secure

First Known Use

Adjective

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 7

Adverb

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of sure was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near sure

Cite this Entry

“Sure.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sure. Accessed 9 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition

sure

1 of 2 adjective
ˈshu̇(ə)r How to pronounce sure (audio)
 especially Southern  ˈshō(ə)r
1
: firmly established : steadfast
a sure hold
2
: reliable, trustworthy
a sure friend
3
: having no doubt : confident
I'm sure I'm right
4
: not to be doubted : certain
sure evidence
5
a
: bound to happen : inevitable
sure disaster
b
: bound as if by fate
we are sure to win
sureness noun

sure

2 of 2 adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on sure

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