Posted by: Jack Henry | November 8, 2017

Editor’s Corner: Indubitably v. Undoubtedly

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Dear Editrix,

What is the difference between indubitably and undoubtedly? Is one better than the other? I’ve seen them both and I don’t know if there’s a subtle difference or why we have two words for what appears to be the same thing.

Doubting Thomasina

Dear Thomasina,

What an interesting question! I tried to answer this question in my head as I drove home, and I couldn’t think of a difference in use of the words. I definitely hear undoubtedly more often. Indubitably seems like one of those words that is reserved for Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes), and I seem to recall it as the last word in the Schoolhouse Rock lyrics for “Lolly, Lolly, Lolly (Get Your Adverbs Here!).”

Here is part of an article from The Grammarist that sounds like it was made for us!

Indubitably and undoubtedly are two words that are sometimes found confusing.

Indubitably means beyond a doubt, without question, plainly true. The word indubitably first appeared in the mid-1400s, it is derived from the Latin word indubitabilis which means that which is not doubtable.

Undoubtedly also means beyond a doubt, without question, plainly true. The word undoubtedly also first appeared in the mid-1400s, it is derived from the Old French word douter meaning to be afraid or doubtful and the prefix un- which means not. Indubitably and undoubtedly are synonyms, which are two words that mean the same thing. The word undoubtedly is used much more often than the word indubitably, as the word indubitably carries the connotation of a more formal word.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

Symitar Documentation Services

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