[doo-bee-uhs, dyoo-]


doubtful; marked by or occasioning doubt: a dubious reply.
of doubtful quality or propriety; questionable: a dubious compliment; a dubious transaction.
of uncertain outcome: in dubious battle.
wavering or hesitating in opinion; inclined to doubt.

Origin of dubious

1540–50; < Latin dubius; see -ous
Related formsdu·bi·ous·ly, adverbdu·bi·ous·ness, nounsu·per·du·bi·ous, adjectivesu·per·du·bi·ous·ly, adverbsu·per·du·bi·ous·ness, nounun·du·bi·ous, adjectiveun·du·bi·ous·ly, adverbun·du·bi·ous·ness, noun

Synonyms for dubious

Synonym study

4. See doubtful.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for dubious

Contemporary Examples of dubious

Historical Examples of dubious

  • "I don't know exactly," replied the doctor in a dubious tone.

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

  • "Why—I've never worn a low dress—not really low," I said, longing but dubious.

  • Better that he had been still silent, than speak that dubious, indecisive "Y—es."

    The Channings

    Mrs. Henry Wood

  • Mr. Cruncher was soothed, but shook his head in a dubious and moral way.

    A Tale of Two Cities

    Charles Dickens

  • They liked him, but they were dubious of his right to represent the Tory spirit.

    Changing Winds

    St. John G. Ervine

British Dictionary definitions for dubious



marked by or causing doubta dubious reply
unsettled in mind; uncertain; doubtful
of doubtful quality; untrustworthya dubious reputation
not certain in outcome
Derived Formsdubiously, adverbdubiousness, noun

Word Origin for dubious

C16: from Latin dubius wavering
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

Word Origin and History for dubious

1540s, from Latin dubiosus "doubtful," from dubium "doubt," neuter of dubius "vacillating, moving two ways, fluctuating;" figuratively "wavering in opinion, doubting, doubtful," from duo "two" (see two), with a sense of "of two minds, undecided between two things." Old English also used tweo "two" to mean "doubt." Cf. doubt (v.). Related: Dubiously; dubiousness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper