- of uncertain outcome or result.
- admitting of or causing doubt; uncertain; ambiguous.
- unsettled in opinion or belief; undecided; hesitating.
- of equivocal or questionable character: His tactics are highly doubtful.
Origin of doubtful
SynonymsSee more synonyms for doubtful on Thesaurus.com
1. undetermined, unsettled, indecisive, dubious, problematic. 2. unsure, indeterminate. 3. irresolute, vacillating, hesitant. 4. shady.
3. Doubtful, dubious, incredulous, skeptical imply reluctance or unwillingness to be convinced. To be doubtful about something is to feel that it is open to question or that more evidence is needed to prove it: to be doubtful about the statements of witnesses. Dubious implies vacillation, unsureness, or suspicion: dubious about suggested methods of manufacture. Incredulous means unwilling or reluctant to believe: incredulous at the good news. Skeptical implies a general disposition to doubt or question: skeptical of human progress.
1, 2. certain.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for doubtful
It is doubtful that any Churchill-like figure—were one available—could thrive.Boris Johnson’s Churchill Man Crush
Michael F. Bishop
November 22, 2014
Whether the vote in a rump referendum over the weekend genuinely reflected public opinion in the eastern-most regions is doubtful.Ukraine’s Fighting Words
May 13, 2014
But it is doubtful anyone will ever prove who poisoned Arafat, if poisoned he was.Arafat’s Polonium Poisoning Mystery Resurfaces
November 7, 2013
It's doubtful that they have any serious political disagreements.Setting the Record Straight on a Meretz Scandal
July 17, 2013
It's doubtful there would have been enough fortification and firepower under any circumstances.Truth, Justice and Benghazi
May 17, 2013
In the broad pathways of the ocean such a chance is doubtful.
And, if we do, it is doubtful if we can attract their attention.
My errors, however, have at least made me cautious and doubtful of my own conclusions.'Tis Sixty Years Since
Charles Francis Adams
It is doubtful if it was mentally prepared to entertain it, or evolve the idea.The Conquest of Fear
It is doubtful if many of the others were any better off in this respect.Ester Ried Yet Speaking
- unlikely; improbable
- characterized by or causing doubt; uncertaina doubtful answer
- unsettled; unresolved
- of questionable reputation or morality
- having reservations or misgivings
- (of a sportsperson) not likely to be fit enough to play or take part
- a person who is undecided or uncertain about an issue
- a sportsperson who is not likely to be fit enough to play or take part
It was formerly considered correct to use whether after doubtful (it is doubtful whether he will come), but now if and that are also acceptable
Word Origin and History for doubtful
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper