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 ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.