v: to question, to waver or to hesitate
n: uncertainty, confusion
Why is there a silent “B” in the word “Doubt”? It seems unneccesary, doesn’t it?
The French word “Doute” arrived into English in the 13th Century from the original Latin word “Dubitare”. Later, sometime in the 14th Century, English scribes started to reintroduce the “B”, but why? Well, it was to keep “Doubt” connected to other words with the same Latin origin, e.g. “Dubious” and “Indubitably”.
Well, if we look further things get interesting.
The only other root-word in English that begins with “DOUB-” is the word “Double” which has origins in the Latin “Duplus”. Both “Dubitare” and “Duplus” come from the Latin “Duo” meaning “Two”.
While the connection in meaning between “Double” and “Two” is obvious, it is not so clear with “Doubt”. We need a deeper understanding of the meaning of “Doubt” to understand the connection. When we doubt we are uncertain, or we could say we think-twice; we are in two-minds. This is why the scribes returned the “B” to “Doubt”; to reflect the importance of the duplicity of thought when we doubt.
In fact, before we started stealing French words we had a word for “Doubt” in Old English, this word was “Tweogan” and its connection to the concept of “Two” is clear.
Thanks to Gina Cooke for this example.