n. pl. un·cer·tain·ties
1. The condition of being uncertain; doubt.
2. Something uncertain: the uncertainties of modern life.
3. Statistics The estimated amount or percentage by which an estimated or calculated value may differ from the true value.
Synonyms: uncertainty, doubt, dubiety, skepticism
These nouns refer to the condition of being unsure about someone or something. Uncertainty, the least forceful, merely denotes a lack of assurance or conviction: I regarded my decision with growing uncertainty.
Doubt and dubiety imply a questioning state of mind: "Doubt is part of all religion" (Isaac Bashevis Singer). "He is ... earnest, his earnestness seasoned with the proper amount of dubiety and humor" (Joseph Epstein).
Skepticism generally suggests an instinctive or habitual tendency to question and demand proof: "A wise skepticism is the first attribute of a good critic" (James Russell Lowell).
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.