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 Canada will not outright ban foreign investments or access to sensitive information, but mitigation measures will likely be required, further increasing the timing and uncertainty for deals in this space. Control Risks, Forbes, "Canadian Government Ramps Up National Security Reviews Of Foreign Investments," 9 Apr. 2021 The Patriots have good depth at the position, but also uncertainty. BostonGlobe.com, "What if the Patriots don’t draft a QB? Here are other options for them at No. 15," 8 Apr. 2021 The additional stress and uncertainty caused by the pandemic made everything that much more difficult. refinery29.com, "Chronic Illness Prepared Them For The Pandemic. What Happens When It's Over?," 7 Apr. 2021 There was a string of uncertainty from that point on. Andy Greene, Rolling Stone, "Bassist Rudy Sarzo on His Years With Ozzy Osbourne, Quiet Riot, Whitesnake, and Dio," 7 Apr. 2021 The program is dependent on grant funding, however, which creates uncertainty for the program. Leia Larsen, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Salt Lake City commission issues recommendations on school-to-prison pipeline, youth racial equity," 7 Apr. 2021 Fumio Matsumoto, chief strategist at Okasan Securities, said that would add uncertainty to the deal. Kosaku Narioka, WSJ, "Toshiba Gets Deal Proposal That Could Be Worth More Than $20 Billion," 7 Apr. 2021 The cloud of confusion and uncertainty hovering over the University of Cincinnati men's basketball program gets bigger and increasingly darker every day. Keith Jenkins, The Enquirer, "The clock is ticking: What's the impact of UC's review into John Brannen's program?," 6 Apr. 2021 Prince Hamzah then signed a letter pledging allegiance to the king in an apparent effort to put an end to a crisis which has plunged the country into uncertainty. Tamara Qiblawi, CNN, "Jordan bans social media chatter on royal family drama as king tries to draw line under crisis," 6 Apr. 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

13 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Uncertainty.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/uncertainty. Accessed 22 Apr. 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.

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