ambition

noun
am·​bi·​tion | \ am-ˈbi-shən How to pronounce ambition (audio) \

Definition of ambition

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : an ardent desire for rank, fame, or power With her talent and fierce ambition, she became a very successful actress.
b : desire to achieve a particular end
2 : the object of ambition Her ambition is to start her own business.
3 US : a desire for activity or exertion felt sick and had no ambition

ambition

verb
ambitioned; ambitioning; ambitions

Definition of ambition (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to have as one's ambition : desire

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Other Words from ambition

Noun

ambitionless \ am-​ˈbi-​shən-​ləs How to pronounce ambition (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms for ambition

Synonyms: Noun

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Choose the Right Synonym for ambition

Noun

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

Ambition Has Roots in Roman Politics

When candidates for public office in ancient Rome wanted to be elected, they had to do just what modern candidates must do. They had to spend most of their time going around the city urging the citizens to vote for them. The Latin word for this effort was ambitio, which came from ambire, a verb meaning “to go around.” Since this activity was caused by a desire for honor or power, the word eventually came to mean “the desire for honor or power.” This word came into French and English as ambition in the late Middle Ages. Later its meaning broadened to include “an admirable desire for advancement or improvement” and still later “the object of this desire.”

Examples of ambition in a Sentence

Noun My first ambition as a child was to be in the circus. He lacked ambition and couldn't compete with the others.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The ambition of Biden's fiscal policy -- now pending before Congress in $4 trillion worth of physical and human infrastructure proposals -- may serve to augment that imperative. John Harwood, CNN, 20 July 2021 No one has that many rings without the ruthless ambition of a Slytherin. Andrew R. Chow, Time, 19 July 2021 The ambition to remake BIR a more exciting venue continues at the end of July with the return of super bikes for the first time since 2004. Star Tribune, 16 July 2021 Saturn governs regimented Capricorn, the enterprising earth sign known for its tireless ambition, and takes approximately two and a half years to transit each sign. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, 4 July 2021 The ambition extends to the plane’s environmental impact. Kimberly Chin, WSJ, 30 June 2021 Only about one-third of the companies meet all criteria for a net-zero ambition by 2050 (or sooner), by having both long-term goals for GHG reduction targets for 2036-2050 and proper climate governance in place. Robert G. Eccles, Forbes, 29 June 2021 Through his extraordinary example, His Royal Highness Prince Philip proved that true partnership has room for both ambition and selflessness — all in service of something greater. The Editors, Marie Claire, 9 Apr. 2021 This is a world in which children act as a fulcrum for their parents’ ambition. Washington Post, 6 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb But the Kushners’ empire, like Trump’s, was underwritten by years of dealing in much more modestly ambitioned properties. Alec Macgillis/propublica, New York Times, 23 May 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ambition.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of ambition

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

1601, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for ambition

Noun

Middle English ambicioun, borrowed from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French ambicion, borrowed from Latin ambitiōn-, ambitiō "act of soliciting for votes, running for public office, striving after popularity, desire for advancement," from ambīre "to encircle, visit in rotation, solicit (political support), seek to obtain" + -tiōn-, -tiō, suffix of verbal action — more at ambient entry 1

Verb

derivative of ambition entry 1

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Time Traveler for ambition

Time Traveler

The first known use of ambition was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near ambition

ambit

ambition

ambitious

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Statistics for ambition

Last Updated

28 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Ambition.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ambition. Accessed 2 Aug. 2021.

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More Definitions for ambition

ambition

noun

English Language Learners Definition of ambition

: a particular goal or aim : something that a person hopes to do or achieve
: a desire to be successful, powerful, or famous
US : a desire to do things and be active

ambition

noun
am·​bi·​tion | \ am-ˈbi-shən How to pronounce ambition (audio) \

Kids Definition of ambition

1 : a desire for success, honor, or power
2 : something a person hopes to do or achieve My ambition is to become a jet pilot.
3 : the drive to do things and be active I'm tired and have no ambition.

More from Merriam-Webster on ambition

Nglish: Translation of ambition for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ambition for Arabic Speakers

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