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From Middle English uncerteyn; equivalent to un- +‎ certain.



uncertain (comparative more uncertain, superlative most uncertain)

  1. Not certain; unsure.
    • 1664, John Tillotson, “Sermon I. The Wisdom of Being Religious. Job XXVIII. 28.”, in The Works of the Most Reverend Dr. John Tillotson, Late Lord Archbishop of Canterbury: [], 8th edition, London: [] T. Goodwin, B[enjamin] Tooke, and J. Pemberton, []; J. Round [], and J[acob] Tonson] [], published 1720, →OCLC:
      Man, without the protection of a superior Being, [] is [] uncertain of everything that he hopes for.
  2. Not known for certain; questionable.
    Tomorrow's weather is uncertain.
  3. Not yet determined; undecided.
  4. Variable and subject to change.
  5. Fitful or unsteady.
    • 1914, Louis Joseph Vance, chapter III, in Nobody, New York, N.Y.: George H[enry] Doran Company, published 1915, →OCLC:
      Turning back, then, toward the basement staircase, she began to grope her way through blinding darkness, but had taken only a few uncertain steps when, of a sudden, she stopped short and for a little stood like a stricken thing, quite motionless save that she quaked to her very marrow in the grasp of a great and enervating fear.
  6. Unpredictable or capricious.


Related terms[edit]



uncertain pl (plural only)

  1. (with "the") Something uncertain.
    • 2011, John Lyons, The Phantom of Chance: From Fortune to Randomness in Seventeenth-Century French Literature[1]:
      Thinking about the uncertain refines our perception of the certain, and generally this takes place in a framework in which the uncertain is the future and the certain is the present.