un·​cer·​tain | \ ˌən-ˈsər-tᵊn How to pronounce uncertain (audio) \

Definition of uncertain

1a : not known beyond doubt : dubious an uncertain claim
b : not having certain knowledge : doubtful remains uncertain about her plans
c : not clearly identified or defined a fire of uncertain origin
2 : not constant : variable, fitful an uncertain breeze
3 : indefinite, indeterminate the time of departure is uncertain
4 : not certain to occur : problematical his success was uncertain
5 : not reliable : untrustworthy an uncertain ally

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Other Words from uncertain

uncertainly adverb
uncertainness \ ˌən-​ˈsər-​tᵊn-​(n)əs How to pronounce uncertain (audio) \ noun

Examples of uncertain in a Sentence

The time of departure is still uncertain. We are still uncertain of the truth. She remains uncertain about her plans. I'm uncertain about how to respond. The cause of the fire is uncertain. He has an uncertain temper. They face a financially uncertain future.
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Recent Examples on the Web Another group that has been uncertain about taking the vaccine is health care workers, who typically have high rates of acceptance for established vaccines. New York Times, "Early Vaccine Doubters Now Show a Willingness to Roll Up Their Sleeves," 26 Dec. 2020 With her husband, Peter, serving as Ford’s SVP of menswear and her circle of friends and connections firmly rooted in the fashion industry, Bromberg Hawkings was uncertain about making the jump into a new field. Janelle Okwodu, Vogue, "Fashion’s Chicest Florist on Jackie O, Tom Ford, and Dressing for Zoom," 24 Dec. 2020 But this winter presents a different landscape where many teams are uncertain about their financial resources, and Bryant’s free agency is looming. Mark Gonzales, chicagotribune.com, "Today’s Chicago Cubs are still utilizing Joe Maddon’s methods. In a time of turnover, they continue to embrace positionless baseball.," 20 Dec. 2020 San Diego County officials also were uncertain about the meaning, but said last night the county would halt enforcing restrictions against restaurants. Greg Moran, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Judge allows strip clubs to stay open, indicates restaurants could reopen too," 16 Dec. 2020 There remains so much that is unknown and uncertain about the electoral transition, the dramatic recent spike in COVID cases, the question of how quickly and fairly vaccines will be distributed, and the economy. David H. Rosmarin, Scientific American, "Managing Emotional Polarization This Holiday Season," 7 Dec. 2020 But Michigan is on pause due to its own increase in cases, and much remains uncertain about the closing weeks of the season. Nathan Baird, cleveland, "What is more important to Ohio State fans: The Game or the College Football Playoff?," 4 Dec. 2020 After a mass resignation by prodemocracy lawmakers last month, the formal opposition camp has all but disappeared and left former legislators uncertain about how to proceed. Timothy Mclaughlin, The Atlantic, "A Hong Kong Protest Icon Is Jailed," 2 Dec. 2020 Much remains uncertain about how the movie business will survive the pandemic. Jake Coyle, Anchorage Daily News, "The pandemic is changing Hollywood, maybe forever," 26 Nov. 2020

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

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Time Traveler for uncertain

Time Traveler

The first known use of uncertain was in the 14th century

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Statistics for uncertain

Last Updated

6 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Uncertain.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/uncertain. Accessed 17 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for uncertain


How to pronounce uncertain (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of uncertain

: not exactly known or decided : not definite or fixed
: not sure : having some doubt about something
: not definitely known


un·​cer·​tain | \ ˌən-ˈsər-tᵊn How to pronounce uncertain (audio) \

Kids Definition of uncertain

1 : not exactly known or decided on an uncertain amount
2 : not sure They were uncertain of the rules.
3 : not known for sure an uncertain claim
4 : likely to change : not dependable uncertain weather

Other Words from uncertain

uncertainly adverb

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