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

Keep scrolling for more

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

With uncertainty surrounding a number of Madrid's stars, Milan enquired about Modric's availability – although any potential deal would require a good number of variables being matched in order to come to fruition. SI.com, "Report: AC Milan Enquires About Real Madrid's Luka Modric," 17 July 2019 There’s nothing like a swift kick to the ribs to prove that a robot can cope with physical uncertainty. James Vincent, The Verge, "Boston Dynamics robots are preparing to leave the lab — is the world ready?," 17 July 2019 The decline was expected, as the bank previously warned that investors remain cautious and weren’t willing to make big bets in the market with the uncertainty in the economy. Washington Post, "Citigroup profits rise 7%, helped by higher interest rates," 15 July 2019 The problem for many analysts is that, with uncertainty over trade policies, businesses may be more cautious with capital expenditures. Anne Sraders, Fortune, "Here are all the Recession Warning Signals That Have Already Gone Off," 11 July 2019 Last year, with uncertainty stalking the economy, orders began to dry up. Sam Knight, The New Yorker, "The Death of British Steel and the Myth of the Good Brexit," 10 July 2019 With the uncertainty of Herm Edwards’ first season as a college head coach and some talent losses from the year before, many pundits penciled the Sun Devils into last place in the division. Brian Howell, The Denver Post, "CU Buffs football opponent preview: Herm Edwards laying foundation at Arizona State," 10 July 2019 This is playing out as Turkey contends with political uncertainty after the shocking rebuke of Mr. Erdogan’s ruling party in the recent Istanbul mayoral election. Peter S. Goodman, New York Times, "Turkey’s Long, Painful Economic Crisis Grinds On," 8 July 2019 In Europe, corporate heads have had to contend with uncertainty over the outcome of the fractious Brexit talks. Ben Dummett And Cara Lombardo, WSJ, "U.S. Deals Lead the Way as Rest of the World Lags Behind," 30 June 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.

See More

First Known Use of uncertainty

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about uncertainty

Statistics for uncertainty

Last Updated

22 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for uncertainty

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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.

Keep scrolling for more

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 complain fretfully

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What's that Smell?! Quiz

  • wide eyed dog smelling rose
  • Someone who is hircine smells like a:
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!