doubt

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English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

The noun is from Middle English doute, from Anglo-Norman and Old French doute, from the verb douter, whose etymology is in the next paragraph. The modern spelling is probably under the influence of Middle French doubte.

The verb is from Middle English douten, from Anglo-Norman douter, from Old French douter, from Latin dubitō, from the noun. Replaced Middle English tweonien (to doubt) (from Old English twēonian, compare Old English twēo (doubt, duplicity)). The modern spelling is probably under the influence of Middle French doubter.

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

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doubt (countable and uncountable, plural doubts)

  1. Uncertainty, disbelief.
    There was some doubt as to who the child's real father was.
    • 1906, Stanley J[ohn] Weyman, chapter I, in Chippinge Borough, New York, N.Y.: McClure, Phillips & Co., OCLC 580270828, page 01:
      It was April 22, 1831, and a young man was walking down Whitehall in the direction of Parliament Street. []. He halted opposite the Privy Gardens, and, with his face turned skywards, listened until the sound of the Tower guns smote again on the ear and dispelled his doubts.

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Translations[edit]

Verb[edit]

doubt (third-person singular simple present doubts, present participle doubting, simple past and past participle doubted)

  1. (transitive, intransitive) To lack confidence in; to disbelieve, question, or suspect.
    He doubted that was really what you meant.
    • Hooker
      Even in matters divine, concerning some things, we may lawfully doubt []
    • Dryden
      To try your love and make you doubt of mine.
  2. (archaic) To fear; to suspect.
    1798, w:William Short (American ambassador), letter to Thomas Jefferson
    how many good Christians are there, who consider themselves the beloved of Christ & the invariable followers of his gospel, who with all his precepts in their mind go to Africa, wrest the mother from the infant—the father from the wife—chain them to the whip & lash ... nay hold this scourge in their own hand & inflict it with all the gout of their abominable appetites, & who do not doubt that they are violating the whole doctrine of the author of their religion—To what absurdities may not the human mind bring itself when this can be thought by them less offensive to God, than eating meat on a friday?
    1819, Lord Byron, Don Juan, I.186:
    He fled, like Joseph, leaving it; but there, / I doubt, all likeness ends between the pair.
  3. (obsolete) To fear.
    • R. of Gloucester
      Edmond [was a] good man and doubted God.
    • Shakespeare
      I doubt some foul play.
    • Spenser
      I of doubted danger had no fear.
    • 1861, George Eliot, “Chapter 21”, in Silas Marner:
      It's dark to me, Mrs Winthrop, that is; I doubt it'll be dark to the last.
  4. (obsolete) To fill with fear; to affright.
    • Beaumont and Fletcher
      The virtues of the valiant Caratach / More doubt me than all Britain.

Related terms[edit]

Translations[edit]