An oddly large number of articles are titles with, or include in their opening line, a phrase like 'I have a doubt regarding gravity'; see the articles at the bottom, for examples.

In most cases, it doesn't seem that the OP actually 'doubts' that the physics in question are true. Instead, they seem to mean that they are generally confused.

Is there a particular language which this usage transliterates from? Possibly a particular thesaurus entry leading people astray?

Intuition behind Work
Electric Field Lines for Continuous Distribution
Doubt in Kinematics
Is propagation of uncertainties linear?

Edit: See also (thanks to @Yrogirg)

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    $\begingroup$ @user16307 is there any purpose to either of your comments? $\endgroup$ Apr 4, 2013 at 18:17
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    $\begingroup$ see also the same topic at MSE meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/3200/… $\endgroup$
    – Yrogirg
    Apr 8, 2013 at 13:14
  • $\begingroup$ @Yrogirg thanks! That thread has lots of good material on it $\endgroup$ Apr 8, 2013 at 15:44
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    $\begingroup$ Dear zhermes, you may have listed 4 examples of questions, but they were posted by the same user, user162..., which diminishes your suggestions that it's a common phenomenon. $\endgroup$ Apr 9, 2013 at 5:56
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    $\begingroup$ @LubošMotl Here's an OP 'doubting' mathematics: physics.stackexchange.com/questions/60524/… $\endgroup$
    – user12345
    Apr 9, 2013 at 14:00
  • $\begingroup$ @LubošMotl ha, that's very interesting - I completely didn't notice that; but, as the meta.math article reaffirms (along with the responses to this post), I'm confident it is a fairly common occurrence. $\endgroup$ Apr 9, 2013 at 14:30
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    $\begingroup$ Better link at English.SE: Can "doubt" sometimes mean "question"? $\endgroup$ Apr 11, 2013 at 23:39

2 Answers 2


It's a phrase, common to Indian English (and some other Asian dialects), that means "I am confused". The word "doubt" is used as a noun here to mean "a confusion" or "an issue" or "a question".

It's fine if you edit this out, just don't proactively go looking for this to take it out.

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    $\begingroup$ Exactly! I learned to disengage from saying "I have a doubt" once I moved out of India because it is rather strange outside the confines of Indian english! $\endgroup$
    – dearN
    Apr 1, 2013 at 20:36
  • $\begingroup$ @drN: It's the opposite for me; I moved to India from the States and these phrases are jarring to my ears :P $\endgroup$ Apr 2, 2013 at 6:22
  • $\begingroup$ Well you'll get used to it. Its not so bad really. I take you teach then? $\endgroup$
    – dearN
    Apr 2, 2013 at 12:24
  • $\begingroup$ @drN: Me? Teach? chuckles . No, I'm a first year student of engineering physics :) $\endgroup$ Apr 2, 2013 at 12:40
  • $\begingroup$ Well, try not to have any doubts then! :P $\endgroup$
    – dearN
    Apr 2, 2013 at 12:44
  • $\begingroup$ Actually... I've got a doubt now..! - Should I get rid of these doubts..? ;-) $\endgroup$ Apr 2, 2013 at 14:09
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    $\begingroup$ This is hilarious. I have used the phrase "I have a doubt" millions of times. $\endgroup$
    – Prathyush
    Apr 2, 2013 at 21:25
  • $\begingroup$ Judging from the usage I see on Stack Exchange, you can usually just replace "doubt" with "question" and it will make a lot more sense to US English speakers. $\endgroup$
    – David Z
    Apr 6, 2013 at 6:35
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    $\begingroup$ @Manishearth It's also Italian by the way (and possibly other european languages). :P $\endgroup$
    – Alenanno
    Apr 6, 2013 at 16:10

The best synonym for this use of "doubt", common in the Indian sub-continent, in British / American English is "question": - "I have a doubt" is equivalent to "I have a question". As such, it's padding, and should be edited out of questions, as part of a more substantial edit that removes chatty stuff.


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