, doubts verb, transitive
- To be undecided or skeptical about: began to doubt some accepted doctrines.
- To tend to disbelieve; distrust: doubts politicians when they make sweeping statements.
- To regard as unlikely: I doubt that we'll arrive on time.
- Archaic To suspect; fear.
To be undecided or skeptical. noun
- A lack of certainty that often leads to irresolution. See Synonyms at uncertainty.
- A lack of trust.
- A point about which one is uncertain or skeptical: reassured me by answering my doubts.
- The condition of being unsettled or unresolved: an outcome still in doubt.
Origin: Middle English douten
Origin: , from Old French douter
Origin: , from Latin dubitāre, to waver; see dwo- in Indo-European roots
Related Forms:Usage Note: Doubt
may be followed by clauses introduced by that, whether,
The choice among these three is partly guided by the intended meaning of the sentence but is not cast in stone. Whether
normally introduces an indirect question and is therefore the traditional choice when the subject is in a state of genuine uncertainty about alternative possibilities: Sue has studied so much philosophy this year that she has begun to doubt whether she exists.
Similarly, when doubtful
indicates uncertainty, whether
is probably the correct choice: At one time it was doubtful whether the company could recover from its financial difficulties, but the bank loan has helped.
On the other hand, that
is the choice when one uses doubt
as an understated way of expressing disbelief: I doubt that we have seen the last of that problem,
meaning “I think we haven't seen the last of that problem.” That
is also the usual choice when the truth of the clause following doubt
is assumed, as in negative sentences and questions. Thus I never doubted for a minute that I would be rescued
implies “I was certain that I would be rescued.” By the same token, Do you doubt that you will be paid?
seems to pose a rhetorical question (“Surely you believe that you will be paid”), whereas Do you doubt whether you will be paid?
may express a genuine request for information and might be followed by because if you do, you should make the client post a bond.
In other cases, however, this distinction between whether
is not always observed. If
may also be used as a substitute for whether
but is more informal in tone. • In informal speech the clause following doubt
is sometimes introduced with but: I don't doubt but
(or but what
) he will come.
Although modern critics sometimes object to its use in formal writing, reputable precedent exists for this construction, as Richard Steele's remark “I do not doubt but England is at present as polite a Nation as any in the World.”
See Usage Notes at but