Definition of doubtful in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈdoutfəl/


1Feeling uncertain about something: he looked doubtful, but gave a nod I was doubtful of my judgment
More example sentences
  • When they finally arrived on the twenty-fifth floor, the couple stepped out hesitantly, doubtful of good news.
  • Today's doctors, in contrast, are uncertain of their role and doubtful of their abilities and are viewed with increasing suspicion by the population.
  • I'm still wavering, still feeling incredibly doubtful of the situation.
irresolute, hesitant, vacillating, dithering, wavering, in doubt, unsure, uncertain, of two minds, shilly-shallying, undecided, in a quandary, in a dilemma, blowing hot and cold
2Not known with certainty: the fire was of doubtful origin
More example sentences
  • The cause is of doubtful origin at the moment and it's too early to say if it was arson.
  • Upon evidence, licences will be taken from companies alleged of dealing with goods of doubtful and undeclared origin.
  • Four substantial panels (two of doubtful origin) and the predella, or figured plinth, remain.
in doubt, uncertain, open to question, unsure, unconfirmed, not definite, unknown, undecided, unresolved, debatable, in the balance, up in the air
informal iffy
2.1Improbable: [with clause]: it is doubtful whether these programs have any lasting effect
More example sentences
  • However, it is doubtful whether any privately financed development scheme would be viable.
  • The fruits on my farm were ready for harvesting but I left them on the trees because it was doubtful whether they would reach the market and if the market would be open given the bandhs and processions in the city.
  • In a city where almost roadside bin is overflowing with uncleared garbage, it's extremely doubtful whether the authorities will be successful in implementation.
2.2Not established as genuine or acceptable: of doubtful legality
More example sentences
  • Though the method by which he was brought to Israel was of doubtful legality, there has been general acceptance that Israel had the right to assert jurisdiction over offences committed in Germany.
  • The streets here were painted gold; whether it was genuine was doubtful, but it was supremely glamorous.
  • The fact that the patient's consent is the crucial factor means that the practice of informing relatives of a patient's diagnosis without first seeking consent to do so is of doubtful legality.
questionable, arguable, debatable, controversial, contentious
informal iffy



Pronunciation: /ˈdoutfəlē/
Example sentences
  • She passed in front of a mirror and frowned doubtfully at the outfit she was wearing.
  • ‘Might be a bit hard with this old rusty Mazda hatchback,’ I mused doubtfully.
  • I enjoyed the reunion with my sister and my mother, who smiled doubtfully when I promised I would resume my daily visit.


Pronunciation: /ˈdoutfəlnəs/
Example sentences
  • And he seemed to think meditation and working on this would eventually ‘make you doubt the doubtfulness.’
  • ‘We're twenty-two years old, we can do this,’ Luke tried to sound bright, but Jake heard the doubtfulness in his voice.
  • The doubtfulness of it comes out, by the way, when it is noticed that this idea can make two items that are in a fundamental way absolutely identical into two different thoughts.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: doubt·ful

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