Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to conduct an empirical examination of auditors' interpretation of selected key uncertainty expressions, namely virtually certain, probable and unlikely, included in accounting standards. Design/methodology/approach - This paper adopts a survey research method to examine the impact of gender difference on the interpretation of uncertainty expressions. Professional auditors in China were selected to examine whether gender difference influences the interpretation of uncertainty expressions. Findings - The results show that female auditors are likely to interpret positive or negative uncertainty expressions more conservatively than male auditors. The extent of conservatism is higher when female auditors are interpreting in-context expressions. The results remain similar after controlling for additional variables, such as education and work experience, which possibly affect the interpretation of probability expressions. Originality/value - The results of this study suggest that gender difference can affect the numerical thresholds that auditors assign to uncertainty expressions. This may lead to different application of professional judgments between male and female auditors. It also provides important implications to regulators and practitioners on the quality of financial reporting and auditing across organizations within and across countries.