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adjective, \ˈvāg\

Simple Definition of vague

  • : not clear in meaning : stated in a way that is general and not specific

  • : not thinking or expressing your thoughts clearly or precisely

  • : not completely formed or developed

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of vague


  1. 1 a :  not clearly expressed :  stated in indefinite terms <vague accusations> b :  not having a precise meaning <a vague term of abuse>

  2. 2 a :  not clearly defined, grasped, or understood :  indistinct <only a vague notion of what's needed>; also :  slight <a vague hint of a thickening waistline> <hasn't the vaguest idea> b :  not clearly felt or sensed :  somewhat subconscious <a vague longing>

  3. 3 :  not thinking or expressing one's thoughts clearly or precisely <vague about dates and places>

  4. 4 :  lacking expression :  vacant <vague eyes> <a vague stare>

  5. 5 :  not sharply outlined :  hazy <met by vague figures with shaded torchlights — Earle Birney>

vaguely adverb
vagueness noun

Examples of vague in a sentence

  1. When my three years of military service ended, I looked around for some way to get to spend time in rural Vietnam as a civilian. The driving force was still primarily intellectual curiosity, along with a desire to improve my language ability in a non-Western language and some vague idea of doing folkloristic or literary studies in the future. —Neil L. Jamieson, Understanding Vietnam, (1993) 1995

  2. There are vague memories in our souls of those misty centuries when the world was in its childhood. —Arthur Conan Doyle, A Study in Scarlet, 1887

  3. At the end of half an hour Tom had a vague general idea of his lesson, but no more, for his mind was traversing the whole field of human thought, and his hands were busy with distracting recreations. —Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer, 1876

  4. It thrilled him with a vague uncertain horror, to know that behind the dusky shroud, there were ghostly eyes intently fixed upon him, while he, though he stretched his own to the utmost, could see nothing but a spectral hand and one great heap of black. —Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, 1843

  5. The instructions she left were vague and difficult to follow.

  6. He gave only a vague answer.

  7. The judges determined that the law was too vague to be fairly enforced.

  8. She has been vague about her plans for college.

  9. We had only a vague idea of where we were.

  10. I think I have a vague understanding of how it works.

  11. He longed in some vague way for something different.

  12. She felt a vague sense of uneasiness when she was around him.

  13. I had the vague impression that they were withholding information.

  14. We could just barely make out the vague outline of a plane in the sky.

Origin of vague

Middle French, from Latin vagus, literally, wandering

First Known Use: 1548

Synonym Discussion of vague

obscure, dark, vague, enigmatic, cryptic, ambiguous, equivocal mean not clearly understandable. obscure implies a hiding or veiling of meaning through some inadequacy of expression or withholding of full knowledge <obscure poems>. dark implies an imperfect or clouded revelation often with ominous or sinister suggestion <muttered dark hints of revenge>. vague implies a lack of clear formulation due to inadequate conception or consideration <a vague sense of obligation>. enigmatic stresses a puzzling, mystifying quality <enigmatic occult writings>. cryptic implies a purposely concealed meaning <cryptic hints of hidden treasure>. ambiguous applies to language capable of more than one interpretation <an ambiguous directive>. equivocal applies to language left open to differing interpretations with the intention of deceiving or evading <moral precepts with equivocal phrasing>.

Rhymes with vague

VAGUE Defined for Kids


adjective \ˈvāg\

Definition of vague for Students


  1. 1 :  not clearly expressed <a vague answer>

  2. 2 :  not clearly understood or sensed <They knew in a vague way what they wanted.>

  3. 3 :  not clearly outlined <At first Rosalind could see only vague shapes … — Jeanne Birdsall, The Penderwicks>

vaguely adverb
vagueness noun

Law Dictionary


adjective \ˈvāg\

Legal Definition of vague

  1. :  characterized by such a lack of precision that a person of ordinary intelligence would have to guess if particular conduct is being proscribed :  characterized by a failure to describe forbidden conduct in terms sufficient to provide fair warning <an unconstitutionally vague law> — see also void-for-vagueness doctrine — compare overbroad

vaguely adverb
vagueness noun

Seen and Heard

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a timid, meek, or unassertive person

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