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cer•tain•ty(ˈsɜr tn ti)
n., pl. -ties.
- Absolute as a miser’s greed —Anon
- An absolute, like the firmness of the earth —Tom Wolfe
- Almost as predictable as the arrival of solstice and equinox —Russell Baker, New York Times/Observer, September 17, 1986
Baker’s comparison referred to Chief-Justice-to-be William Rehnquist’s judicial opinions.
- As certain as a gun —Samuel Butler
- As certain as beach traffic in July —Anon
- As certain as bodies moved with greater impulse, progress more rapidly than those moved with less —Voltaire
- As certain as death and taxes —Daniel Defoe
Often attributed to Benjamin Franklin, the simile continues to be popular, with many humorous twists such as “Certain as death and hay-fever,” used in Philip Barry’s 1923 play, You and I.
- As certain as dye penetrates cotton —Daniela Gioseffi
The simile, from a poem, continues with “The orange is a part of the living animal.”
- As certain as end-of-the season inventories —Anon
- As certain as June graduates scanning the want ads —Anon
- As certain as leaves falling in September —Anon
- As certain as lines at return counters after Christmas —Anon
- As certain as rise of taxi meter —Anon
- As certain as that a crooked tree will have a crooked shadow —Anon
- As certain as that bread crumbs will attract a flock of pigeons —Anon
- As certain as that leaves will fall in autumn —Anon
- As certain as that night succeeds the day —George Washington
- As certain as that your shadow will follow you —Anon
- As certain as the morning —Thomas Wolfe
- As certain as the sunrise —Anon
- As certain as thunderclap following lightning —Anon
- As certain as wrinkles —Anon
- As certainly as day follows day —Anon
- As certainly as Segovia had been born to finger a fretboard or Willie Mays to swing a bat —T. Coraghessan Boyle
- As inevitable as a dog at a hydrant —Anon
- As inevitable as the turning of the earth on which you stand —Harvey Swados
- As sure as a club —Mary Hedin
- As sure as a goose goes barefoot —American colloquialism, attributed to Northeast
- As sure as a tested hypothesis —Lorrie Moore
- As sure as a wheel is round —American colloquialism
- As sure as behave and misbehave —John Ciardi
- As sure as day —William Shakespeare
- As sure as death —William Shakespeare
- As sure as death —Ben Jonson
Jonson’s use of this simile in Every Man in His Humor if not the first, is certainly one of the earliest encountered.
- As sure as meat will fry —American colloquialism, attributed to Southeast
- As sure as rain —Ben Ames Williams
A more specific variation of this is “Sure as rain in April.”
- As sure as shooting —Anon
This common expression probably stems from the no longer used “Sure as a gun,” variously attributed to the poet John Dryden and the playwright William Congreve.
- Sure as shooting —American colloquialism
- As sure as snakes crawl —American colloquialism, attributed to Midwest
- As surely as that two ends of a seesaw cannot both be elevated at the same time —Alexander Woolcott
- As surely as the eye tends to be long-sighted in the sailor and shortsighted in the student —Herbert Spencer
- As surely as the harvest comes after the seedtime —John Brown
- As surely as the tree becomes bulky when it stands alone and slender if one of a group —Herbert Spencer
- As surely as water will wet us, as surely as fire will burn —Rudyard Kipling
- As unpreventable as blinking your eyes when a light flashes suddenly —Anon
- Certain things will follow inevitably, just like a little trail of horseshit behind a fat old draught horse —George Garrett
- Definite as a counter-signed contract —Anon
- Inevitable as a comet’s return —Marge Piercy
- Inevitable as noon —Thomas Wolfe
- Inevitable as the snick of a mouse-trap —Carl Sandburg
- Inevitable … like a stone rolling down a mountain —Mary Gordon
- Predictable as a physical law —Charles Johnson
- (The man was as) predictable as rainwater seeking a low spot —William Beechcroft
- Predictable as the prints left by a three-legged dog —Sharon Sheehe Stark
- Predictable as the arrival of Monday morning —Harry Prince
- Predictable as the menu at charity dinner —Anon
- Predictable, like a diplomatic reception —A. Alvarez
- Secure as an obituary in the Times —Marge Piercy
- So predictable … just like tuning in the same radio station every night —Lee Smith
A character in Smith’s novel, The Last Day the Dogbushes Bloomed, uses this simile to describe a dull suitor.
- A sweet and sure annuity; it’s like taking a bath at Fort Knox —Moss Hart
This line from Light Up the Sky likens a national tour for an ice show to sure-fire success.
bet one’s boots To be absolutely sure or certain of something. The reference is to a gambler (perhaps a cowboy, whose boots are among his most important possessions) so sure of winning that he will bet everything he owns, including his boots. The phrase appeared in 1856 in Spirit of Times. Similar expressions are bet one’s life and bet one’s bottom dollar.
dead to rights Indisputably, unquestionably; positively, assuredly; usually in the phrases have someone dead to rights or caught dead to rights, in which it is equivalent to ‘in the act, red-handed’ Attempts to explain the origin of this American colloquial expression are frustrating and futile. Dead appears to be used in its meaning of ‘absolutely, utterly’; but the equivalent British expression bang to rights suggests something closer to ‘directly, precisely.’ The context of wrongdoing in which the phrase always appears in early citations indicates that to rights may relate to the rights of the guilty party, but the theory does not withstand careful analysis. The OED suggests a connection between the to rights of the phrase and the obsolete to rights ‘in a proper manner,’ but no citations contain analogous syntactic constructions. Despite its refusal to yield an elucidating explanation, dead to rights has been a commonly used expression since the mid-1800s.
dollars to doughnuts A sure thing, a certainty; usually in the phrase bet you dollars to doughnuts, in use since 1890. Although the precise origin of this expression is unknown, it obviously plays on the value of a dollar contrasted with the relative small worth of a doughnut, which once cost 5¢. Anyone willing to wager dollars to doughnuts is confident of winning his bet. One use of the expression apparently referred to the declining value of the dollar:
Dollars to doughnuts is a pretty even bet today. (Redbook, 1947)
eat one’s hat To admit willingness to “eat one’s hat” is to express certainty and confidence, and to be ready to abase one-self should things not turn out as one had anticipated. Should such cocksureness prove ill-founded, “eating one’s hat” would be analogous to “eating crow” or “eating one’s words.” The first use of this expression is attributed to Charles Dickens in The Pickwick Papers (1837).
If I knew as little of life as that, I’d eat my hat and swallow the buckle whole.
Of British origin, eat one’s hat is currently popular in the United States as well.
eggs is eggs Surely, definitely, absolutely, without a doubt. Usually used as an interjection or in the phrase sure as eggs is eggs, this British colloquialism is probably a humorous twist or an ignorant mispronunciation of “X” in the familiar algebraic equation, “X is X.”
[After examining me] the doctor shook his head and said, “Eggs is eggs.” (Johnny Carson, on The Tonight Show, NBC Television, 1978)
far and away Absolutely, incomparably, easily, undoubtedly; by far. Used to increase the intensity of a superlative adjective, this expression implies that there are no competitors or contenders within reach of this description.
You are far and away the greatest scoundrel I ever saw. (William E. Norris, Thirlby Hall, 1883)
hands down See EFFORTLESSNESS.
in spades Definitely, emphatically, to the utmost degree; without restraint or qualification; no ifs, ands, or buts. This expression connoting extremeness derives from the fact that spades are the highest suit in some card games. In spades is used as an intensifier, as in the following citation from Webster’s Third:
[I] have thought him a stinker, in spades, for many years (Inez Robb)
in the bag Assured, certain. The most plausible and frequent explanation holds that the reference is to game which has been killed and bagged, i.e., put in the gamebag. One source claims a cockfighting origin for the term; since a live gamecock is literally brought to the pits in a bag, for the owner confident of victory, “It’s in the bag.”
lead-pipe cinch An absolute certainty; a certain success; something that is easily accomplished; a piece of cake. In this expression, cinch refers to a saddle girth, the beltlike strap used to secure the saddle on a horse. If the cinch were tight enough, the rider did not have to worry about the saddle’s slipping; in fact, it was a certainty that the saddle would stay in place. Although the rationale for the inclusion of “leadpipe” in this expression is unclear, it is possible that the relative ease with which lead for (waste) plumbing could be worked (compared with cast iron) gave rise to lead-pipe as an intensifier.
It is a double-barrelled lead-pipe cinch that you’ll be more anxious to get it back than you ever were about a $10 loan overdue. (Outing, July, 1921)
on ice See ABEYANCE.
shoo-in A candidate, athlete, team, or other competitor considered to be a sure winner; the favorite. This expression employs the verb phrase to shoo-in ‘to cause to go into’ as a noun.
In the [Republican presidential] preferential poll, Taft looked like a shoo-in over Stassen. (AP wire story, May 13, 1952)
sure as shooting Certainly without a doubt, most assuredly. This colloquialism of American origin appeared in print by the mid-1800s. It was probably a cowboy expression referring to one’s need for sure ‘accurate’ shooting to avoid being shot dead in turn.
Sure as shootin’ … one of these days one of my customers will be coming in and telling me he caught a fish with one of your jackets. (Field and Stream, June 19, 1947)
|Noun||1.||certainty - the state of being certain; "his certainty reassured the others"|
confidence, self-assurance, self-confidence, sureness, assurance, authority - freedom from doubt; belief in yourself and your abilities; "his assurance in his superiority did not make him popular"; "after that failure he lost his confidence"; "she spoke with authority"
certitude, cocksureness, overconfidence - total certainty or greater certainty than circumstances warrant
reliance, trust - certainty based on past experience; "he wrote the paper with considerable reliance on the work of other scientists"; "he put more trust in his own two legs than in the gun"
|2.||certainty - something that is certain; "his victory is a certainty"|
quality - an essential and distinguishing attribute of something or someone; "the quality of mercy is not strained"--Shakespeare
cert - an absolute certainty; "it's a dead cert"
surety - something clearly established
indisputability, indubitability, unquestionability, unquestionableness - the quality of being beyond question or dispute or doubt
moral certainty - certainty based on an inner conviction; "she believed in the importance of moral absolutes and moral certainty"; "the prosecutor had a moral certainty that the prisoner was guilty"
predictability - the quality of being predictable
slam dunk - something that is a sure to occur; a foregone conclusion; "predicting his success was a slam dunk"
confidence doubt, uncertainty, disbelief, scepticism, qualm, indecision, unsureness
"In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes" [Benjamin Franklin]
"If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties" [Francis Bacon The Advancement of Learning]
I can't say with any certainty that this will happen → no puedo decir con ninguna certeza or seguridad que esto vaya a suceder
we know for a certainty that → sabemos a ciencia cierta que ...
it's a certainty → es cosa segura
there are no certainties in modern Europe → en la Europa moderna no hay nada seguro, pocas cosas son seguras en la Europa moderna
there is no certainty that they will be alive → no existe la seguridad or la certeza de que vayan a estar vivos