un·​cer·​tain·​ty ˌən-ˈsər-tᵊn-tē How to pronounce uncertainty (audio)
: the quality or state of being uncertain : doubt
: something that is uncertain
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 plaintiffs sought some 22 million yen (around $142,000) in damages to their mental health because of the uncertainty and stress the hasty notices bring. Chad De Guzman, TIME, 15 Apr. 2024 But advocates say this uncertainty hasn’t eased worries about potential racial profiling and erosion of trust between law enforcement and communities. Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN, 14 Apr. 2024 Turnover at the commission ‒ Chairperson Summer Strand, appointed in March 2023, is the longest serving member ‒ creates uncertainty about where commissioners will land on those and other issues, all of the parties have said. Karl Ebert, Journal Sentinel, 12 Apr. 2024 The prices could just reflect the modest assumption that uncertainty about the election’s outcome will cause the stock market to fluctuate more than usual. Jeff Sommer, New York Times, 12 Apr. 2024 That could potentially lead to a period of uncertainty about whether abortions are legal, just as what followed the Dobbs decision. Stacey Barchenger, The Arizona Republic, 10 Apr. 2024 At the Planned Parenthood clinic in Tempe, Dr. Jill Gibson, chief medical director of Planned Parenthood Arizona, said uncertainty about when the ruling would go into effect triggered anxiety among patients. Alicia Victoria Lozano, NBC News, 10 Apr. 2024 On top of that, financial institutions have had to weave a path through uncertainty around the base rate, inflation, unemployment figures and rumors of a recession. Eleanor Pringle, Fortune, 9 Apr. 2024 The major uncertainty lies with how far north and west a nose of mild air coming from the south makes it. Jeff Halverson, Washington Post, 3 Apr. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'uncertainty.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near uncertainty

Cite this Entry

“Uncertainty.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/uncertainty. Accessed 19 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


un·​cer·​tain·​ty ˌən-ˈsərt-ᵊn-tē How to pronounce uncertainty (audio)
: lack of certainty
: something that is uncertain

More from Merriam-Webster on uncertainty

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