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(pronounced suhr-tuh-tood or suhr-tuh-tyood; “oo” pronounced as in “boot” and not as in “book”)  noun


1. the state of being certain (that something is the case); having a feeling of complete sureness and confidence; total freedom from doubt. 2. certainty; inevitability.

(Helpful tip: unlike its synonym certainty, which usually implies the presence of objective proof, certitude is based more on personal belief or unquestioning faith.)

Main Example

  • Many M.B.A. programs in the U.S. face a gloomy future. Applications from foreign students to study for a graduate business degree in America are suddenly on the decline. And the primary reason for this new trend, which is likely to cost our business schools (other than those that are top-ranked) dearly? According to PBS’s “Nightly Business Report,” America’s current climate of shrinking legal immigration is creating a lack of certitude among foreign students with regard to finding employment here in the U.S. after they’ve completed their business degree which can cost well over $100,000.

Workplace Examples

  • I think Shelly is being awfully unrealistic when she says that we have nothing to fear from the competition. Her certitude that “we are at least five years ahead of the rest of the pack” is misplaced and inflated.
  • At a time when all of my close relatives are criticizing my decision, how I wish my father were still alive; I think he would have supported me. Of course, I cannot say that with any certitude because I never had the opportunity to discuss such a situation with him before his untimely death.

Other Examples

  • while delivering a speech on how to maximize one’s returns from equity mutual funds, this author saying: “Now remember, there is no one who can say with certitude where the Dow Jones will be two months from now, let alone next year.”
  • a colleague saying: “I was struck by the look of certitude on Gillian’s face as she finished presenting her bold and risky plan, and then strode across the room to take her seat.”
  • during a press conference, a city mayor saying: “There are still so many unknowns with regard to the approaching storm, I don’t think anyone can answer your question with certitude.”
  • a tenured professor going about his work halfheartedly because he believes with certitude that he will never be fired; the certitude of some that reincarnation does happen
  • during the Civil War, both Abraham Lincoln and Robert E. Lee saying with certitude that God was on their side
  • Supporters of the 2003 invasion of Iraq say the Bush administration’s certitude regarding Saddam being an imminent threat to the U.S. was entirely justified, considering the dictator’s past actions and his cat and mouse games. Those critical of the invasion say, among other things, that the decision to wage war resulted from a rush to judgment or some hidden agenda.

© 2018 V.J. Singal
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