doubt

doubt verb.
1. I doubt whether he'll come and I doubt if he'll come are the standard constructions when doubt is used in the affirmative to mean ‘think it unlikely’. When doubt is used in the negative to mean ‘think it likely’, a that-clause is normal: I don't doubt that he'll come. The logic behind this difference is that when doubt is in the affirmative it implies uncertainty in the following clause (which is consistent with use of whether or if), whereas when it is used in the negative it implies probability in the following clause (which is more consistent with that).
2. This rationale lies behind the objection many people have to the increasing use of doubt, in the affirmative followed by a that-clause or by an object clause without a conjunction. This is commonly regarded as an Americanism, but it is attested in BrE use at the end of the 19c. Examples: (with that)

• Schiller doubted that a poetic measure could be formed capable of holding Goethe's plan —B. Taylor, 1871

• I doubt that the White House is responsible for this rash of tittle-tattle —Alistair Cooke, 1981

• I doubt that the okapi which died…would agree with Mark Twain that ‘Wagner is not as bad as he sounds’ —Independent, 1994

• (with object clause) He doubted Ferrari would sue him —New Yorker, 1986

• I doubt there was anything really wrong with him —Anita Brookner, 1992.


Modern English usage. 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Doubt — • A state in which the mind is suspended between two contradictory propositions and unable to assent to either of them Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Doubt     Doubt      …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • doubt — doubt·able; doubt·er; doubt·ful·ly; doubt·ful·ness; doubt·ing·ly; doubt·ing·ness; doubt·less·ness; doubt·some; re·doubt·able; re·doubt·ably; re·doubt·ed; un·doubt·ed·ly; un·doubt·ing·ly; doubt; doubt·ful; doubt·less; mis·doubt; re·doubt;… …   English syllables

  • doubt — I (indecision) noun ambiguity, anxiety, apprehension, apprehensiveness, confusion, dubitatio, dubito, faltering, feeling of uncertainty, hesitancy, improbability, inability to decide, incertitude, indefiniteness, indeterminateness,… …   Law dictionary

  • Doubt — Doubt, n. [OE. dute, doute, F. doute, fr. douter to doubt. See {Doubt}, v. i.] 1. A fluctuation of mind arising from defect of knowledge or evidence; uncertainty of judgment or mind; unsettled state of opinion concerning the reality of an event,… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Doubt — Doubt, v. t. 1. To question or hold questionable; to withhold assent to; to hesitate to believe, or to be inclined not to believe; to withhold confidence from; to distrust; as, I have heard the story, but I doubt the truth of it. [1913 Webster]… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • doubt — (v.) early 13c., to dread, fear, from O.Fr. doter doubt, be doubtful; be afraid, from L. dubitare to doubt, question, hesitate, waver in opinion (related to dubius uncertain; see DUBIOUS (Cf. dubious)), originally to have to choose between two… …   Etymology dictionary

  • doubt — [dout] vi. [ME douten < OFr douter < L dubitare, to waver in opinion < dubius, DUBIOUS; b reintroduced, after L, in 16th c.] 1. to be uncertain in opinion or belief; be undecided 2. to be inclined to disbelief 3. Archaic to hesitate vt.… …   English World dictionary

  • Doubt — (dout), v. i. [imp. & p. p. {Doubted}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Doubting}.] [OE. duten, douten, OF. duter, doter, douter, F. douter, fr. L. dubitare; akin to dubius doubtful. See {Dubious}.] 1. To waver in opinion or judgment; to be in uncertainty as to… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • doubt — ► NOUN ▪ a feeling of uncertainty. ► VERB 1) feel uncertain about. 2) question the truth of. ● no doubt Cf. ↑no doubt DERIVATIVES doubter …   English terms dictionary

  • doubt — [n] lack of faith, conviction; questioning agnosticism, ambiguity, apprehension, confusion, demurral, difficulty, diffidence, dilemma, disbelief, discredit, disquiet, distrust, dubiety, dubiousness, faithlessness, faltering, fear, hesitancy,… …   New thesaurus

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