skep·​ti·​cism ˈskep-tə-ˌsi-zəm How to pronounce skepticism (audio)
: an attitude of doubt or a disposition to incredulity either in general or toward a particular object
: the doctrine that true knowledge or knowledge in a particular area is uncertain
: the method of suspended judgment, systematic doubt, or criticism characteristic of skeptics
: doubt concerning basic religious principles (such as immortality, providence, and revelation)
Choose the Right Synonym for skepticism

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

Example Sentences

She regarded the researcher's claims with skepticism. It's good to maintain a healthy skepticism about fad diets.
Recent Examples on the Web In Germany, skepticism of the merits of military strength has enabled a long post-Cold War process of disarmament. James Angelos, New York Times, 24 Jan. 2023 Alternate facts aren’t the only reason for the public’s skepticism. Joshua Cohen, Forbes, 23 Jan. 2023 Yet, as the curiosity around cultured meat proliferates, so has the skepticism. Ali Francis, Bon Appétit, 20 Jan. 2023 Her party’s agenda is rooted in skepticism of the European Union and anti-immigration policies. Julia Horowitz, CNN, 16 Jan. 2023 Research shows that Republicans’ skepticism about climate change is largely attributable to a conflict between ideological values and often discussed solutions, particularly government regulations. Susan Joy Hassol, Scientific American, 13 Jan. 2023 Health officials noted that skepticism of COVID-19 vaccines may have had a slight effect on routine childhood immunization rates. Abigail Adcox, Washington Examiner, 12 Jan. 2023 Despite the skepticism of some activists and the local media, the non-profit was finally operational. Wes Enzinna, Harper’s Magazine , 5 Jan. 2023 But that intervention, as first reported by The Washington Post, only added to the skepticism staunch hard-liners in the Freedom Caucus already had about McCarthy’s purely conservative credentials. Marianna Sotomayor, Anchorage Daily News, 2 Jan. 2023 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'skepticism.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

First Known Use

1646, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of skepticism was in 1646

Dictionary Entries Near skepticism

Cite this Entry

“Skepticism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition


skep·​ti·​cism ˈskep-tə-ˌsiz-əm How to pronounce skepticism (audio)
: an attitude of doubt

More from Merriam-Webster on skepticism

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

Fashionable Words

  • dog-sunglasses-scarf
  • Which of these items is named for a deadly weapon?
Spell It

Hear a word and type it out. How many can you get right?

Solve today's spelling word game by finding as many words as you can with using just 7 letters. Longer words score more points.

Can you make 12 words with 7 letters?