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 That ruling has placed the fate of those death row inmates navigating the resentencing process into the realm of uncertainty. Robert Sherman | Fox News, Fox News, "Fate of Florida death row inmates uncertain after court ruling," 15 Feb. 2020 Some of the uncertainties around trade have diminished recently, but risks to the outlook remain. Heather Long, Washington Post, "Fed Chair Powell warns Congress that $1 trillion budget deficits are unsustainable," 11 Feb. 2020 Another team that will be fascinating to monitor, though, given the uncertainty around QB Cam Newton and obvious link football observers want to make between new OC Joe Brady and Burrow. Nate Davis, USA TODAY, "NFL mock draft 2020: Where will Jordan Love, other QBs land in post-Super Bowl projection?," 4 Feb. 2020 Apple disclosed much wider volatility in its potential revenues for the current quarter in the face of uncertainties around factory production and sales of its products. Peter S. Goodman, New York Times, "SARS Stung the Global Economy. The Coronavirus Is a Greater Menace.," 3 Feb. 2020 Inevitability That kind of inevitability has hung over the whole process, even amid the brief period of uncertainty on the witness vote. Tom Benning, Dallas News, "Senate votes 51-49 to reject new witnesses in Trump impeachment trial, paving way for eventual acquittal vote," 1 Feb. 2020 The wins effectively clear the two biggest trade issues from Trump's agenda, raising the possibility that 2020 will not feature major trade war developments, after years of uncertainty. Sean Higgins, Washington Examiner, "Trump trade wins don't eliminate the threat of more tariffs," 19 Jan. 2020 The National Retail Federation, the nation’s largest retail trade group, forecasts that holiday sales will rise between 3.8% and 4.2% even as the ongoing U.S.-China trade war creates some uncertainty around pricing and supplies. Anne D’innocenzio, chicagotribune.com, "Sizing up the 2019 holiday shopping season for retailers," 13 Nov. 2019 Norwegian's new routes follow an announcement last month that the airline would also be adding a nonstop from Austin to Paris, signaling that the airline is launching flights again after a recent period of uncertainty. Louis Cheslaw, Condé Nast Traveler, "Norwegian Air Is Launching Cheap Flights from the Midwest to Italy," 12 Nov. 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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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

18 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Uncertainty.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/uncertainty. Accessed 27 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for uncertainty


How to pronounce uncertainty (audio)

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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