She's a witch! Burn her!
Forms: ME dut(e, (ME dote), ME–15 doute, (ME–15 dowt(e, douȝt(e, dought(e, dowght), ME–16 ... (Show More)
Etymology: Middle English < Old French dute , dote , doute , vbl. n. < douter to doubt v. The spelling douȝte , dought , arose from the spoken identity, which per contra caused doughty adj. to be spelt doubty . As to the mod. spelling with b , see doubt v.
1a. The (subjective) state of uncertainty with regard to the truth or reality of anything; undecidedness of belief or opinion. With pl.: A feeling of uncertainty as to something. spec. Uncertainty as to the truth of Christianity or some other religious belief or doctrine (freq. pl. and occas. personified).
a1225 Leg. Kath. 2463 Ne beo þu na þing o dute Of al þet tu ibeden hauest.
c1300 Beket 375 Thanne was the Bischop in gret doute what were therof to done.
c1400 Mandeville's Trav. (Roxb.) xiii. 57 Þou man of litil faith, whi had þou doute?
1483 Cath. Angl. 105/2 A Dowte, ambiguitas, dubietas, dubitacio, dubium.
1559 W. Cuningham Cosmogr. Glasse 17 Your wordes bringe me in a doubt.
1576 A. Fleming tr. Cicero in Panoplie Epist. 17 You ought not to stand in doubt.
1585 Queen Elizabeth I in W. B. Scoones Four Cent. Eng. Lett. (1880) 29, I write not this, my deare brother, for dout.
1609 Shakespeare Troilus & Cressida ii. ii. 14 Modest doubt is calld The beacon of the wise.
1708 G. Stanhope Paraphr. (1709) IV. 67 To remove all Remains of Unbelief and Doubt.
1772 W. Cowper in R. Conyers Coll. Psalms & Hymns 217 The folly of my doubts and fears.
1850 Tennyson In Memoriam xciv. 142 There lives more faith in honest doubt, Believe me, than in half the creeds.
1855 R. Browning Bishop Blougram in Men & Women I. 216 What have we gained then by our unbelief But a life of doubt diversified by faith, For one of faith diversified by doubt.
1915 G. K. Chesterton Poems 98 John Grubby, who was short and stout And troubled with religious doubt.
1924 C. Mackenzie Heavenly Ladder xxiv. 296 It was all right so long as I said Mass myself; I had no doubts then.
1934 H. G. Wells Exper. Autobiogr. I. iv. 188, I had not yet been confirmed.‥ I suggested that I might have ‘doubts’.
1960 P. Mortimer Saturday Lunch with Brownings 109 For the first time in his life‥he had Doubts.
1971 Daily Tel. 8 Apr. 10/6 (heading) , 3 per cent. of church-goers have doubts.
b. The condition of being (objectively) uncertain; a state of affairs such as to give occasion for hesitation or uncertainty. Phr. to give (an accused person) the benefit of the doubt: to give a verdict of Not Guilty where the evidence is conflicting; to assume his innocence rather than guilt; hence in wider use, to incline to the more favourable or kindly decision, estimate, or the like.
a1300 Cursor M. (Gött.) 22612 Saint paul it sais, it es na dute.
1487 (1380) J. Barbour Bruce (St. John's Cambr.) xiv. 207 Quhill eftir myd-morne, the fichting Lestit, in-till sic ane dout.
1678 Dryden All for Love iv. 47 Like A Polisht Glass held to the lips when life's in doubt.
1817 J. Mill Hist. Brit. India II. v. vi. 556 It‥brought in doubt the sincerity of the former professions.
[1844 C. Napier Let. 21 Feb. in W. Napier Life (1857) III. 48, I shall therefore‥give him the benefit at your request.]
1848 Bell's Life in London 9 July 2/3 If he thought he was out, it must suffice; but he ought to have been quite certain, or‥to have given the batter the benefit of the doubt.
1860 T. Inman On Myalgia 104 We should more frequently give our patients the ‘benefit of our doubts’, and abstain from attempting to cure an inflammation [etc.].
1892 Sir A. Kekewich in Law Times Rep. 67 140/1 In a case of this kind I think I ought to give the defendant the benefit of the doubt.
1961 P. Ustinov Loser xi. 259 He deserved the benefit of the doubt, for old times' sake.
1961 P. Ustinov Loser xiii. 284 Perhaps, he now thought, he had just been a microcosm of a world addled by a desperate malady.‥ No, he deserved no benefit of any doubt.
†2. A matter or point involved in uncertainty; a doubtful question; a difficulty. Obs.
c1374 Chaucer tr. Boethius De Consol. Philos. iv. pr. vi. 134 Whan oon doute is determined and kut awey þer wexen oþer doutes wiþouten noumbre.
1398 J. Trevisa tr. Bartholomew de Glanville De Proprietatibus Rerum (1495) xvi. xlvii. 569 No man shal wene that it is doubt or fals that god hath sette vertue in precyous stones.
1581 G. Pettie tr. S. Guazzo Ciuile Conuersat. (1586) i. 41 b, Who will‥now and then propose such doubtfull doubtes.