ambition, aspiration, pretension mean strong desire for advancement. ambition applies to the desire for personal advancement or preferment and may suggest equally a praiseworthy or an inordinate desire <driven by ambition>. aspiration implies a striving after something higher than oneself <an aspiration to become president someday>. pretension suggests ardent desire for recognition of accomplishment often without actual possession of the necessary ability and therefore may imply presumption <has literary pretensions>.
: something a person hopes to do or achieve <My ambition is to become a jet pilot.>
: the drive to do things and be active <I'm tired and have no ambition.>
Word History of AMBITION
Like the candidates of today, some men ran for public office in ancient Rome by going around and asking people to vote for them. The Latin word for this practice, ambitio, came from a verb meaning “to go around.” Since looking for votes showed “a desire for power or honor,” the Latin word took on that meaning. The English word ambition came from the Latin word.