Meaning of “certain” in the English Dictionary

"certain" in British English

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uk /ˈsɜː.tən/ us /ˈsɝː.tən/

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.

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certain adjective (EXTREMELY LIKELY)

B1 impossible to avoid or extremely likely:

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.

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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.


uk /ˈsɜː.tən/ us /ˈsɝː.tən/

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.

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uk /ˈsɜː.tən/ us /ˈsɝː.tən/ formal

(Definition of “certain” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"certain" in American English

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us /ˈsɜr·tən/

certain adjective (KNOWING TO BE TRUE)

knowing that something is true or will happen and having no cause to feel that it may not be true or may not happen; having no doubt:

"I think Emily is going to pick up Judy." "Are you certain?"
One thing is certain – supporters of the bill are not giving up.
[ + (that) clause ] I’m certain (that) he’ll be there.
[ + question word ] I’m not certain how much it will cost.
When you report a robbery, make certain a police report is filled out (= check that this happens).

certain adjective (PARTICULAR)

particular but not named or described:

Parents expect their kids to leave home at a certain point.

certain adjective (LIMITED)

[ not gradable ] some but not exactly stated; limited:

She enjoys sports to a certain extent.
There’s a certain amount of exaggeration in all ads.
pronoun us /ˈsɜrt·ən/

Charges were filed against certain of the company’s directors.

(Definition of “certain” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"certain" in Business English

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uk /ˈsɜːtən/ us
sum certain

LAW a particular amount of money stated in an agreement that cannot be changed:

The $10 million price is sum certain.

(Definition of “certain” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)