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 Shapiro said the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office could be taking extra care with this case, given the uncertainty over whether Bauer would consider a plea deal and the challenge of proving the case beyond a reasonable doubt. Bill Shaikin, Los Angeles Times, 15 July 2021 But Jenny Capador, who was very close with her brother, doesn't believe he could have been involved in the assassination, which has thrown Haiti into further uncertainty amid escalating gang violence and an acceleration of Covid-19 infections. Stefano Pozzebon, CNN, 11 July 2021 Life has changed since the secure and predictable days of Communism; it’s freer but riskier, with more uncertainty and division, with food and supply shortages and corruption. Nancy Lord, Anchorage Daily News, 10 July 2021 Freelance photojournalism couples low pay with a professional lifestyle of uncertainty and subordination. Washington Post, 8 July 2021 Projects are only getting more difficult because of market volatility, global trade uncertainty, the pandemic and a big shortage of flatbed trucks for use. Patrick Kennedy, Star Tribune, 6 July 2021 And unlike in many other wealthy countries, the pace of vaccinations in America is stalling because of lack of access, uncertainty, and distrust. Ed Yong, The Atlantic, 1 July 2021 Dissatisfaction with his mechanics led to uncertainty and nibbling at the corners. Kevin Sherrington, Dallas News, 26 June 2021 Gamble has spent 47 years with the UAW that included serving as vice president of UAW-Ford just before being recruited to navigate a time of uncertainty and crisis. Phoebe Wall Howard, Detroit Free Press, 25 June 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

18 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Uncertainty.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/uncertainty. Accessed 24 Jul. 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.

More from Merriam-Webster on uncertainty

Nglish: Translation of uncertainty for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of uncertainty for Arabic Speakers


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