An Uncertain Mind Leads to the Chosen Word “Uncertainty”

    Honestly, when forced to choose a word to focus on, I had no idea. I was staring at the list of words, and I had come down to three words. But when doing another look through, I could not make up my mind. Then ‘uncertainty’ popped out at me. Most likely my state of mind led to my decision, but still, the word is unique as its history shows. Human nature also can reflect uncertainty, as well as science. Uncertainty can be seen ranging in human emotions- a person cannot feel certain in what they are feeling. Or a person can have uncertainty in his or her understanding of a concept. People often have uncertainty in their nature- they act one way one day, and different the next. Literature can also exemplify uncertainty. Another can make the theme or moral of the story have uncertainty in order to let the reader look at their own morals. The story line can have uncertainty to provide suspense and let the reader enjoy making up possibilities as to what could happen. A specific example of uncertainty in literature would be the fear of uncertainty that many characters have- the fear of not being certain of everything in their life. Victor from Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein is an example of this character who feared not knowing everything and not being certain of life and death. There are many other examples. Science also has uncertainty. Science is able finding out the uncertain- or the unknown. There are also principles based off of the uncertain- like the uncertainty principle that states that an electron’s position and velocity cannot both be known and thus one of them is always uncertain. There are a lot of places in the world for the word “uncertainty”.

Formal Definition (s)

1. the state of being uncertain; doubt; hesitancy: His uncertainty gave impetus to his inquiry.

2. an instance of uncertainty, doubt, etc.

3. unpredictability; indeterminacy; indefiniteness.

Related words: hesitation, irresolution, indecision, ambivalence.

History- Etymology

     The etymology of uncertainty began in the late 14th century in England, when uncertainty broke off from its stem word uncertain, which was created in 1300, meaning “of indeterminate time or occurrence” or “not fully confident”. After a while, uncertainty was used in occurrence to the uncertainty of history or the past. For example, Caius is another name for the Roman praenomen Gaius- they both are abbreviated as C. But the confusion between these two names exemplifies the uncertainty in roman history, language and use of the gamma. In 1400, uncertainty became related to ‘ambiguity’, and thus picked up a new meaning: “capability of having two meanings”. The word incertitude was later connected with uncertain in the mid-fifteen hundreds. Another new meaning that was created in 1400 was “not being executed, unfulfilled” in referring to legal matters with a major connection was to the word suspense. Hesitation was also connected with uncertainty in the 1400’s, meaning stammering, uncertainty in speech. Uncertain then picked up the meaning of “variability”. Another adaption in the mid-fifteenth century is that uncertainty was connected with “dubitation” or “to waver in opinion.” In 1700, uncertainty was connected with the word ‘dubiety’- meaning doubt, uncertainty. The word then began to evolve in relation to other words or theories. Werner Heisenberg, a German scientist, created his “uncertainty principle” in 1927, which was the idea that an electron could either have a determined position or determinate velocity but not both. In other words, in velocity or position are either uncertain. Another example of uncertainty’s evolution is when a sound of uncertainty “er” was adapted in the mid-nineteenth century. It is thus that uncertainty has evolved and had new meanings and purposes in its history.


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1 Comment

  1. Way to make our posts look boring! That was not done with “uncertainty”!!!


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