: capable of being understood in two or more possible senses or ways <an ambiguous smile> <an ambiguous term> <a deliberately ambiguous reply>
— am·big·u·ous·ly adverb
— am·big·u·ous·ness noun
Examples of AMBIGUOUS
- We were confused by the ambiguous wording of the message.
- He looked at her with an ambiguous smile.
- Due to the ambiguous nature of the question, it was difficult to choose the right answer.
- the ambiguous position of women in modern society
- Greater familiarity with this artist makes one's assessment of him more tentative rather than less. His best pictures exude a hypersensitive, ambiguous aura of grace. —Peter Schjeldahl, New Yorker, 10 Mar. 2003
- He seeks sources for the speech's ideas in Lincoln's ambiguous stance toward organized religion, in the sermons of preachers he listened to, and in his Bible-reading habit. —Gilbert Taylor, Booklist, 15 Dec. 2001
- In Mexico we follow the fraught, ambiguous journey of a Tijuana cop … caught between the ruthless, corrupt general … he works for and the DEA, which wants him to inform on his countrymen. —David Ansen, Newsweek, 8 Jan. 2001
- Physicians could manipulate reimbursement rules to help their patients obtain coverage for care that the physicians perceive to be necessary, for example, through ambiguous documentation or by exaggerating the severity of patients' conditions. —Michael K. Wynia et al., Journal of the American Medical Association, 12 Apr. 2000
Origin of AMBIGUOUS
to be undecided, from ambi-
to drive — more at agent
First Known Use: 1528
Related to AMBIGUOUS
- obscure, arcane, cryptic, dark, deep, Delphic, double-edged, elliptical (or elliptic), enigmatic (also enigmatical), equivocal, fuliginous, inscrutable, murky, mysterious, mystic, nebulous, occult, opaque
- accessible, clear, nonambiguous, obvious, plain, unambiguous, unequivocal
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