1. free from doubt or reservation; confident; sure: I am certain he will come.
  2. destined; sure to happen (usually followed by an infinitive): He is certain to be there.
  3. inevitable; bound to come: They realized then that war was certain.
  4. established as true or sure; unquestionable; indisputable: It is certain that he tried.
  5. fixed; agreed upon; settled: on a certain day; for a certain amount.
  6. definite or particular, but not named or specified: A certain person phoned. He had a certain charm.
  7. that may be depended on; trustworthy; unfailing; reliable: His aim was certain.
  8. some though not much: a certain reluctance.
  9. Obsolete. steadfast.


  1. certain ones: Certain of the members declined the invitation.

  1. for certain, without a doubt; surely: I know for certain that I have seen that face before.


  1. (postpositive) positive and confident about the truth of something; convincedI am certain that he wrote a book
  2. (usually postpositive) definitely knownit is certain that they were on the bus
  3. (usually postpositive) sure; bound; destinedhe was certain to fail
  4. decided or settled upon; fixedthe date is already certain for the invasion
  5. unfailing; reliablehis judgment is certain
  6. moderate or minimumto a certain extent
  7. make certain of to ensure (that one will get something); confirm


  1. for certain definitely; without a doubthe will win for certain


    1. known but not specified or namedcertain people may doubt this
    2. (as pronoun; functioning as plural)certain of the members have not paid their subscriptions
  1. named but not knownhe had written to a certain Mrs Smith

c.1300, “determined, fixed,” from Old French certain “reliable, sure, assured” (12c.), from Vulgar Latin *certanus, from Latin certus “sure, fixed, settled, determined” (also source of Italian certo, Spanish cierto), originally a variant past participle of cernere “to distinguish, decide,” literally “to sift, separate” (see crisis).

Of persons, “full of confidence in one’s knowledge or judgment,” from mid-14c. Euphemistic use (of a certain age, etc.) attested from mid-18c. Certainer, certainest were common to c.1750, but have fallen from proper use for some reason. Expression for certain “assuredly” is attested by early 14c.

see for certain.

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