[ dout ]
See synonyms for: doubtdoubteddoubtingdoubts on

verb (used with object)
  1. to be uncertain about; consider questionable or unlikely; hesitate to believe: The police have good reason to doubt his alibi.

  2. to distrust; regard with suspicion: I doubted the salesman, so we decided to check with other dealers.

  1. Archaic. to fear; be apprehensive about.

verb (used without object)
  1. to be uncertain about something; be undecided in opinion or belief: The priest told me that it was normal to doubt, but encouraged me to nurture my faith.

  1. a feeling of uncertainty about the truth, reality, or nature of something: We all had our doubts about your mysterious Canadian girlfriend since no one has ever seen her in person.

  2. distrust or suspicion: Voters naturally held some doubt about the abrupt change in policy direction issued by city hall.

  1. a general feeling of uncertainty, worry, or concern: As soon as I'd dropped out of school to become a full-time musician, I was full of doubt—what if I’d made a terrible mistake?Set your doubts aside, and listen to my business idea with an open mind.

  2. a state of affairs such as to occasion uncertainty.

  3. Obsolete. fear; dread.

Idioms about doubt

  1. beyond a / the shadow of a doubt, with certainty; definitely. : Also beyond a doubt, beyond doubt.

  2. in doubt, in a state of uncertainty or suspense: His appointment to the position is still in doubt.

  1. no doubt,

  2. without doubt, unquestionably; certainly.

Origin of doubt

First recorded in 1175–1225; Middle English verb douten, duten, doubten, from Old French douter, doter “to doubt, be doubtful,” from Latin dubitāre “to waver, hesitate, be uncertain” (frequentative of Old Latin dubāre ), equivalent to dub- “doubt” + -it- frequentative suffix + -āre infinitive suffix; noun derivative of the verb. The -b- first appears between 1420–30 in imitation of Latin dubit-

usage note For doubt

Doubt and doubtful may be followed by a subordinate clause beginning with that, whether, or if: I doubt that (or whether or if ) the story is true. It is doubtful that (or whether or if ) the story is true. There is some doubt that (or whether or if ) the story is true. In negative or interrogative sentences, that almost always introduces the subordinate clause: I do not doubt that the story is true. Is it doubtful that the story is true? Is there any doubt that the story is true?
The expressions doubt but and doubt but that occur in all varieties of standard speech and writing: I don't doubt but she is sincere. There is no doubt but that the charges will affect his career. Doubt but what occurs mainly in informal speech and writing: There is no doubt but what the rainy weather will hurt the crops.

Other words for doubt

Other words from doubt

  • doubt·a·ble, adjective
  • doubt·a·bly, adverb
  • doubt·er, noun
  • doubt·ing·ly, adverb
  • doubt·ing·ness, noun
  • non·doubt·a·ble, adjective
  • non·doubt·er, noun
  • non·doubt·ing, adjective
  • non·doubt·ing·ly, adverb
  • o·ver·doubt, verb (used with object)
  • pre·doubt, noun, verb
  • pre·doubt·er, noun
  • un·doubt·a·ble, adjective
  • un·doubt·ing, adjective

Words Nearby doubt Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use doubt in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for doubt


/ (daʊt) /

  1. uncertainty about the truth, fact, or existence of something (esp in the phrases in doubt, without doubt, beyond a shadow of doubt, etc)

  2. (often plural) lack of belief in or conviction about something: all his doubts about the project disappeared

  1. an unresolved difficulty, point, etc

  2. philosophy the methodical device, esp in the philosophy of Descartes, of identifying certain knowledge as the residue after rejecting any proposition which might, however improbably, be false

  3. obsolete fear

  4. give someone the benefit of the doubt to presume someone suspected of guilt to be innocent; judge leniently

  5. no doubt almost certainly

  1. (tr; may take a clause as object) to be inclined to disbelieve: I doubt we are late

  2. (tr) to distrust or be suspicious of: he doubted their motives

  1. (intr) to feel uncertainty or be undecided

  2. (tr; may take a clause as object) Scot to be inclined to believe

  3. (tr) archaic to fear

  4. I wouldn't doubt someone Irish I would expect nothing else from someone

Origin of doubt

C13: from Old French douter, from Latin dubitāre

usage For doubt

Where a clause follows doubt in a positive sentence, it was formerly considered correct to use whether (I doubt whether he will come ), but now if and that are also acceptable. In negative statements, doubt is followed by that: I do not doubt that he is telling the truth. In such sentences, but (I do not doubt but that he is telling the truth) is redundant

Derived forms of doubt

  • doubtable, adjective
  • doubtably, adverb
  • doubter, noun
  • doubtingly, adverb

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Other Idioms and Phrases with doubt


see beyond a doubt; cast doubt on; give the benefit of the doubt; no doubt; shadow of a doubt.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.