- An example of certain is when you are confident that you let the dogs in earlier.
- An example of certain is how you would identify someone without his name even though everyone knows who you are talking about.
- fixed, settled, or determined
- sure (to happen, etc.); inevitable
- not to be doubted; unquestionable: certain evidence
- not failing; reliable; dependable: a certain cure
- controlled; unerring: his certain aim
- without any doubt; assured; sure; positive: certain of his innocence
- not named or described, though definite and perhaps known: a certain person
- some, but not very much; appreciable: to a certain extent
Origin of certainMiddle English and Old French from Vulgar Latin an unverified form certanus from Classical Latin certus, determined, fixed, origin, originally past participle of cernere, to distinguish, decide, origin, originally , to sift, separate: see harvest
of a certain age
- Definite; fixed: set aside a certain sum each week.
- Sure to come or happen; inevitable: certain success.
- Established beyond doubt or question; indisputable: What is certain is that every effect must have a cause.
- Capable of being relied on; dependable: a quick and certain remedy.
- Having or showing confidence; assured: I'm certain I left my keys in this room.
- a. Not specified or identified but assumed to be known: felt that certain breeds did not make good pets.b. Named but not known or previously mentioned: a certain Ms. Johnson.
- Perceptible; noticeable: a certain charm; a certain air of mystery.
- Not great; calculable: to a certain degree; a certain delay in the schedule.
Origin of certainMiddle English from Old French from Vulgar Latin certānus from Latin certus past participle of cernere to determine ; see krei- in Indo-European roots.
Usage Note: It is often claimed that certain is an absolute term like unanimous or paramount and cannot be modified; something is either certain or it is not. However, a majority of the Usage Panel accepted the construction Nothing could be more certain as early as 1965, and phrases such as fairly certain and quite certain are readily understood as expressing varying degrees of confidence, especially when they refer to a person. Phrases in which certain is modified can be quite effective, as the following example from Susan Orlean shows: “The [taxidermic] piece was precise and lovely, almost haunting, since the more you looked at it the more certain you were that the birds would just stop building their nest, spread their wings, and fly away.” Note that since certain must always suggest overall confidence, its range is restricted to the upper range; one is less likely to be slightly, somewhat, or a little bit certain, for example.
(comparative more certain, superlative most certain)
- Sure, positive, not doubting.
- I was certain of my decision.
- Not to be doubted or denied; established as a fact.
- Actually existing; sure to happen; inevitable.
- Bankruptcy is the certain outcome of your constant gambling and lending.
- Unfailing; infallible.
- Fixed or stated; regular; determinate.
- Not specifically named; indeterminate; indefinite; one or some; sometimes used independently as a noun, and meaning certain persons.
- Having been determined but unspecified. The quality of some particular subject or object which is known by the speaker to have been specifically singled out among similar entities of its class.
- Certain people are good at running.
From Middle English certain, certein, from Old French certain, from Vulgar Latin unattested form *certānus, extended form of Latin certus (“fixed, resolved, certain”), of the same origin as cretus, past participle of cernere (“to separate, perceive, decide”). Displaced native Middle English wis, iwis (“certain, sure”) (from Old English, ġewiss (“certain, sure”) and alternative Middle English spelling sertane (“some, certain”)