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

Definition of uncertainty

1 : the quality or state of being uncertain : doubt
2 : something that is uncertain

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Choose the Right Synonym for uncertainty

uncertainty, doubt, dubiety, skepticism, suspicion, mistrust mean lack of sureness about someone or something. uncertainty may range from a falling short of certainty to an almost complete lack of conviction or knowledge especially about an outcome or result. assumed the role of manager without hesitation or uncertainty doubt suggests both uncertainty and inability to make a decision. plagued by doubts as to what to do dubiety stresses a wavering between conclusions. felt some dubiety about its practicality skepticism implies unwillingness to believe without conclusive evidence. an economic forecast greeted with skepticism suspicion stresses lack of faith in the truth, reality, fairness, or reliability of something or someone. regarded the stranger with suspicion mistrust implies a genuine doubt based upon suspicion. had a great mistrust of doctors

Examples of uncertainty in a Sentence

There is some uncertainty about the company's future. He accepted the position without hesitation or uncertainty.
Recent Examples on the Web The uncertainty is familiar to Israelis who have endured four inconclusive national elections in the last two years, a crippling period of political paralysis. Washington Post, "Israel’s Netanyahu has hours to form a new government and no clear path to do it," 4 May 2021 Regulatory uncertainty is scary for companies looking to jump on the crypto bandwagon. Anneken Tappe, CNN, "Has Wall Street missed the boat on cryptocurrencies?," 2 May 2021 The uncertainty of the 2021 swim and diving season was up in the air with the challenges of COVID-19 restrictions being placed on high school athletics. Emmett Hall, sun-sentinel.com, "Pine Crest swimming and diving celebrates another state title," 28 Apr. 2021 The uncertainty certainly isn’t easy to deal with for a former first-round pick who is only 26 and has made 154 career starts. oregonlive, "Portland Trail Blazers’ Rondae Hollis-Jefferson taking advantage of opportunity to jumpstart NBA career: ‘It means the world to me’," 21 Apr. 2021 The uncertainty is on display in the Securities and Exchange Commission case against Ripple Labs, a digital currency issuer. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "The SEC’s Cryptocurrency Confusion," 16 Apr. 2021 The uncertainty was the most difficult thing for Cadillac Williams. Tom Green | Tgreen@al.com, al, "Cadillac Williams opens up about ‘nerve-racking’ experience during Auburn’s coaching change," 5 Apr. 2021 The election is many months away, and Schnur said the uncertainty over what could happen over the next several months is why Democrats are almost certain to have a name on the ballot come election day. Seema Mehta, Los Angeles Times, "Is it inevitable that a prominent Democrat will challenge Newsom in the recall?," 22 Mar. 2021 The uncertainty is not ideal, but for Class of 2021 spring sports seniors like Austin, the opportunity to compete again is a victory in itself. Buddy Collings, orlandosentinel.com, "Oviedo’s Sam Austin cherishes return to track after shutdown," 13 Mar. 2021

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for uncertainty

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for uncertainty

Last Updated

7 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Uncertainty.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/uncertainty. Accessed 14 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for uncertainty



English Language Learners Definition of uncertainty

: the quality or state of being uncertain
: something that is doubtful or unknown : something that is uncertain


un·​cer·​tain·​ty | \ ˌən-ˈsər-tᵊn-tē How to pronounce uncertainty (audio) \
plural uncertainties

Kids Definition of uncertainty

1 : lack of certainty : doubt Uncertainty made the days of waiting longer …— William H. Armstrong, Sounder
2 : something that is doubtful or unknown Life is full of uncertainties.

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