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 cone of uncertainty for this storm extends from Jacksonville all the way to Key West. Doug Criss, CNN, "5 things to know for August 30: Dorian, Hong Kong, Amazon, border wall, economy," 30 Aug. 2019 French President Emmanuel Macron, the summit host who joined Trump at the top of the news conference, said the situation has created economic uncertainty and urged both sides to reach an agreement. Fortune, "‘Sorry, It’s the Way I Negotiate,’ Trump Says of U.S.-China Trade Talks," 26 Aug. 2019 The trade war has created uncertainty for companies and economies around the world, and the volatility of the Trump administration makes things worse. Klint Finley, WIRED, "Trump’s Trade War Isn’t Just a US–China Problem," 26 Aug. 2019 An index of trade policy uncertainty for the United States also has soared under Mr. Trump. Peter Baker, New York Times, "A Gyrating Economy, and Trump’s Volatile Approach to It, Raise Alarms," 23 Aug. 2019 Gardner takes the helm of the 155-acre stadium and arena complex at a time of great uncertainty for the Colieum Authority. Phil Matier, SFChronicle.com, "Oakland Coliseum Authority finds a pinch hitter for CEO," 14 Aug. 2019 Some contend that the risk of reidentification is relatively low because these sets often reflect only a fraction of the population—which creates uncertainty that any particular person is included in the list. Sophie Bushwick, Scientific American, ""Anonymous" Data Won't Protect Your Identity," 23 July 2019 The increase in reporting reduces uncertainty for fisheries managers when making decisions about season length. Frank Sargeant, al, "Alabama red snapper season extended," 22 July 2019 There is no forward looking uncertainty for political events or changes in the campaign built into the model. Kabir Khanna And Anthony Salvanto, CBS News, "Early contests by the numbers: Democratic delegate race tightens — CBS News Battleground Tracker," 21 July 2019

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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Statistics for uncertainty

Last Updated

2 Sep 2019

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

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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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Comments on uncertainty

What made you want to look up uncertainty? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to make a temporary encampment

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