AskDefine | Define doubt

Dictionary Definition



1 the state of being unsure of something [syn: uncertainty, incertitude, dubiety, doubtfulness, dubiousness] [ant: certainty]
2 uncertainty about the truth or factuality of existence of something; "the dubiousness of his claim"; "there is no question about the validity of the enterprise" [syn: dubiousness, doubtfulness, question]


1 consider unlikely or have doubts about; "I doubt that she will accept his proposal of marriage"
2 lack confidence in or have doubts about; "I doubt these reports"; "I suspect her true motives"; "she distrusts her stepmother"

User Contributed Dictionary




From douter, from dubitare.


  1. To lack confidence in; to disbelieve, question, or suspect.
    He doubted that was really what you meant.


to lack confidence in something


  1. Uncertainty, disbelief.
    There was some doubt as to who the child's real father was.

Related terms

Extensive Definition

Doubt, a status between belief and disbelief, involves uncertainty or distrust or lack of sureness of a fact, an action, a motive, or a decision. Doubt brings into question some notion of a perceived "reality", and may involve delaying relevant action out of concerns for mistakes or faults.
The term "to doubt" can also mean "to question one's circumstances and life-experience".

Impact on society

Doubt sometimes tends to call on reason. It may encourage people to hesitate before acting, and/or to apply more rigorous methods. Doubt may have particular importance as leading towards disbelief.
Politics, ethics and law, faced with important decisions that often determine the course of individual life, place great importance on doubt, and often foster elaborate adversarial processes to carefully sort through all the evidence to come to a decision.
One view regards the scientific method, and to a degree all of science, as entirely motivated by doubt: rather than accepting existing theories, scientists express systematic or habitual doubt (skepticism) and devise experiments to test (and, optimally, to disprove) any theory. Some commentators see technology as simply the expansion of the experiments to a wider user-base, which takes real risks with it. Users may no longer doubt the applicability of the theory in play, but there remain doubts about how it interacts with the real world. The process of technology-transfer stages exploitation of science to ensure the minimization of doubt and danger.


Psychoanalysts often attribute doubt, which they may interpret as a symptom of a phobia emanating from the ego, to childhood, when the ego develops. Childhood experiences, these traditions maintain, can plant doubt about one's abilities and even about one's very identity. The influence of parents and other influential figures often carries heavy connotations onto the resultant self-image of the child/ego, with doubts often included in such self-portrayals.
Cognitive mental as well as more spiritual approaches abound in response to the wide variety of potential causes for doubt — sometimes seen as a "Bad Thing". Behavioral therapy — in which a person systematically asks his own mind if the doubt has any real basis — uses rational, Socratic methods. Behavioral therapists claim that any constant confirmation leads to emotional detachment from the original doubt. This method contrasts to those of say, the Buddhist faith, which involve a more esoteric approach to doubt and inaction. Buddhism sees all doubt as a negative attachment to one's perceived past and future. To let go of the personal history of one's life (affirming this release every day in meditation) plays a central role in releasing the doubts — developed in and attached to — that history. Through much spiritual exertion, one can (if desired) dispel doubt, and live "only in the present".


Many people associate "excessive" doubt with obsessive-compulsive disorder, sometimes nicknamed a "disease of doubt".((fact}}


Anything that is questionable or causes doubt, especially an argument or a claim.
Branches of philosophy like logic devote much effort to distinguish the dubious, the probable and the certain. Much of illogic rests on dubious assumptions, dubious data or dubious conclusions, with rhetoric, whitewashing, and deception playing their accustomed roles.


Doubt that god(s) exist forms the basis of agnosticism — possibly definable as the belief that one cannot determine the existence of god(s) — and atheism, which can entail either not believing in god(s) or believing that no god(s) exist(s).
By extension, doubt as to the existence or intentions of the Christian God applies to doubt concerning the Christian Bible as well, bringing into question its alleged status as the word of God, and propounding alternative explanations (such as a work of mythology like Homer's ancient Greek epics the Iliad and the Odyssey). Doubt of a religion itself brings into question the truth of its set of beliefs.
Christians often debate doubt in the contexts of salvation and eventual redemption in an afterlife. This issue has become particularly important in the Protestant version of the Christian faith, which requires only acceptance of Jesus as saviour and intermediary with God for a positive outcome. The debate appears less important in most other religions and ethical traditions.


In the context of spirituality, individuals may see doubt as the opposite of faith. If faith represents a compulsion to follow a path, doubt may block that particular path. People use doubts and faith every day to choose the life path that they follow; for example: “I doubt that laziness will help me achieve my goals.”
Doubt can serve to create individual illusions to shield the vision of an unpleasant outcome. "I doubt anyone will catch me if I rob this store." Depending upon the energy put into the doubt, when used in this way, doubt itself has little impact on events and merely blocks the individual from seeing possibilities.

See also


  • Hein, David (Winter 2006). "Faith and Doubt in Rose Macaulay's The Towers of Trebizond". Anglican Theological Review 88 (1): 47-68. ISSN 0003-3286.

Further reading

doubt in Arabic: شك
doubt in Breton: Mar
doubt in Catalan: Dubte
doubt in German: Zweifel
doubt in Spanish: Duda
doubt in French: Doute
doubt in Galician: Dúbida
doubt in Korean: 의심
doubt in Icelandic: Efi
doubt in Italian: Dubbio
doubt in Dutch: Twijfel
doubt in Portuguese: Dúvida
doubt in Albanian: Dyshimi
doubt in Sicilian: Dubbiu
doubt in Swedish: Tvivel
doubt in Ukrainian: Сумнів

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Humism, Pyrrhonism, agnosticism, agonize over, all-overs, anxiety, apprehension, apprehensiveness, awake a doubt, be at sea, be diffident, be doubtful, be dubious, be possessive, be skeptical, be uncertain, beat about, call in question, challenge, concern, confutability, contest, contestability, controvertibility, deniability, diffidence, disbelief, disbelieve, discredit, disputability, dispute, disquiet, distrust, distrustfulness, doubtful, doubtfulness, dubiety, dubiousness, dubitancy, fear, feel unsure, flounder, fluctuate, foreboding, greet with skepticism, grope, half believe, half-belief, harbor suspicions, have reservations, hesitate, hesitation, in doubt, incertitude, incredulity, irresolution, leeriness, misdoubt, misgive, misgiving, mistrust, mistrustfulness, puzzle over, qualm, qualmishness, query, question, questionableness, raise a question, refutability, reservations, scepticism, scoff, scoffing, scruple, scrupulousness, self-doubt, shadow of doubt, skepticalness, skepticism, smell a rat, suspect, suspicion, suspiciousness, thrash about, throw doubt upon, total skepticism, treat with reserve, unbelief, uncertainty, vacillate, wariness, waver, wonder, wonder whether, worry
Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1