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

Example Sentences

There is some uncertainty about the company's future. He accepted the position without hesitation or uncertainty.
Recent Examples on the Web Also, organizations are exercising caution given the macroeconomic uncertainty. George Stahl, WSJ, 28 Jan. 2023 Despite the uncertainty during the interim period in the wake of Shazam! Skyler Caruso, Peoplemag, 26 Jan. 2023 Add in the uncertainty with re-aggravating his groin and that somber postgame feeling was understandable. Chris Fedor, cleveland, 25 Jan. 2023 The economy may self-correct, but the uncertainty makes the future of inflation and the intensity of the Fed’s rate hikes throughout 2023 uncertain. Q.ai - Powering A Personal Wealth Movement, Forbes, 25 Jan. 2023 The uncertainty has clouded bright expectations for massive growth in U.S. offshore wind, which the Biden administration and several state governments have bet big on in their climate plans. Dino Grandoni, Washington Post, 25 Jan. 2023 On this episode of the Fifth & Mission podcast, Chronicle reporter Jill Tucker joins host Cecilia Lei to discuss how that reversal may have serious consequences across the district, as well as the financial uncertainty that continues. Fifth & Mission Podcast, San Francisco Chronicle, 24 Jan. 2023 The price uncertainty began during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Dan Stickel, chief economist of the Department of Revenue, who spoke to the Senate Finance Committee. Sean Maguire, Anchorage Daily News, 23 Jan. 2023 But these few weeks have also held reminders of the power of sport, despite the uncertainty, the seeming moments of grace and senselessness, the violence and compassion. Louisa Thomas, The New Yorker, 23 Jan. 2023 See More

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.

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 2 Feb. 2023.

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

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!

The Great British Vocabulary Quiz

  • union jack speech bubble
  • Named after Sir Robert Peel, what are British police called?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

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?