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

With a very compressed run such as at Bristol Bay, even a deviation of a few days creates a lot of uncertainty. Anchorage Daily News, "Warmer waters threaten to make the commercial salmon fishery less predictable," 17 Sep. 2019 Happer’s original idea to review climate research involved a team of scientists who would critique government science reports and play up the areas of uncertainty. Scott Waldman, Science | AAAS, "Why a high-profile climate science opponent quit Trump’s White House," 12 Sep. 2019 So the Fever enter the offseason with plenty of uncertainty. Matthew Vantryon, Indianapolis Star, "Indiana Fever enter the offseason without a coach or a GM. But they do have a vision," 9 Sep. 2019 At the time, the hurricane center’s forecast path — including a large cone of uncertainty — did not go farther west than the eastern third of Georgia. Seth Borenstein, Twin Cities, "NOAA assailed for defending Trump’s Hurricane Dorian claim," 7 Sep. 2019 Mr Lee now faces months of uncertainty ahead of his new trial—and, some observers believe, more time in prison. The Economist, "Samsung’s boss thought he was out of the woods. Not so fast," 5 Sep. 2019 The map showed a white line encircling the area of Dorian’s most likely path — often called the cone of uncertainty — but there also was a mysterious black loop that extended the track into Alabama. Washington Post, "Massive international rescue and relief effort underway in ravaged Bahamas as Hurricane Dorian aims at Carolinas," 4 Sep. 2019 The cone of uncertainty still includes much of east Central Florida including downtown Orlando. Richard Tribou, orlandosentinel.com, "Hurricane Dorian thrashing Bahamas as Florida starts to feel effects of Category 5 storm," 1 Sep. 2019 For a 27-year-old French father of an infant girl, though, 22 minutes of uncertainty did more than put him on the radar. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Jockey Flavien Prat shifts from epic Kentucky Derby to chase for Del Mar title," 28 Aug. 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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Statistics for uncertainty

Last Updated

30 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for uncertainty

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

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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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Comments on uncertainty

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