Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

English definition of “certain”

certain

adjective uk   /ˈsɜː.tən/ us    /ˈsɝː-/

certain adjective (WITHOUT DOUBT)

B1 having no doubt or knowing exactly that something is true, or known to be true, correct, exact, or effective: [+ (that)] Are you absolutely certain (that) you gave them the right number? I feel certain (that) you're doing the right thing. You should make certain (that) everyone understands the instructions. The police seem certain (that) they will find the people responsible for the attack. [+ question word] I'm not certain how much it will cost. He was quite certain about/of his attacker's identity. One thing is certain - she won't resign willingly. know/say for certain C1 to know or say something without doubt: I don't know for certain if she's coming. I can't say for certain how long I'll be there.

certain adjective (EXTREMELY LIKELY)

B1 impossible to avoid or extremely likely: [+ to infinitive] The population explosion is certain to cause widespread famine. Oil prices are certain to rise following the agreement to limit production. After all his hard work, he's certain to pass his exams. The team looks almost certain to win the match. [+ (that)] It is virtually certain (that) she will win the gold medal. Even if a ceasefire can be agreed, how can they make certain (that) neither side breaks it? Cancer sufferers no longer face certain death as they once did. This scandal will mean certain defeat for the party in the election.

certain adjective (NAMED)

[before noun] formal named but neither famous nor known well: I had lunch today with a certain George Michael - not the George Michael, I should explain.

certain adjective (LIMITED)

[before noun] limited: I like modern art to a certain extent/degree, but I don't like the really experimental stuff.

certain

determiner uk   /ˈsɜː.tən/ us    /ˈsɝː-/
B1 particular but not named or described: We have certain reasons for our decision, which have to remain confidential. Do you think war is justifiable in certain circumstances? Certain members of the audience may disagree with what I'm about to say. a certain B2 used before a noun when it is difficult to describe something exactly or give its exact amount: The song has a certain appeal, but I'm not sure what it is.

certain

pronoun uk   /ˈsɜː.tən/ us    /ˈsɝː-/ formal
some: Certain of the candidates were well below the usual standard, but others were very good indeed.
(Definition of certain from the Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)
What is the pronunciation of certain?
Browse related topics

You are looking at an entry to do with Inevitable, but you might be interested in these topics from the Chance and possibility topic area:

Add Cambridge dictionaries to your browser to your website

More meanings of “certain”

Definitions of “certain” in other dictionaries

Word of the Day

fairy

an imaginary creature with magic powers, usually represented as a very small person with wings

Word of the Day

What’s that lovely smell?

by Kate Woodford​,
October 29, 2014
As adult humans, we can distinguish about 10,000 different smells. It’s no wonder, then, that we have so many words and expressions to describe them. This week we’re taking a look at those smell words – words that describe good smells and words that describe bad smells. Most smell words are either

Read More 

high-frequency trading noun

October 27, 2014
a type of stock market trading that uses very complex technology to trade extremely quickly, often making tiny profits which nevertheless add up to substantial sums Lewis’s book, Flash Boys, is driving a huge amount of attention toward the topic of high frequency trading, and it has rekindled some of

Read More