ambition

noun
am·​bi·​tion | \am-ˈbi-shən \

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 \-​ləs \ adjective

Synonyms for ambition

Synonyms: Noun

ambitiousness, aspiration, go-getting

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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

That forecast, the largest economic-development project in a generation, may prove too small for Amazon’s ever-growing ambitions. Matt Day, The Seattle Times, "Amazon shifts its sights to the East Coast," 13 Nov. 2018 Jack’s ambitions don't extend much farther than the short term. Candice Frederick, Harper's BAZAAR, "This Is Us Season 3 Episode 3: Dreams and Fears Go Hand-In-Hand for the Pearsons," 10 Oct. 2018 You may be compelled to choose between your professional ambitions and domestic aspirations. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, "What October's Leo Horoscope Means for You," 30 Sep. 2018 Given his ambition and self-confidence, Mbappe may take matters into his own hands against Croatia. John Leicester, chicagotribune.com, "Five reasons why France will win the World Cup final," 14 July 2018 Mr Li’s ambitions, moreover, reach far beyond Hunan. The Economist, "The rise of the robochef," 12 July 2018 This ended the guessing game about Amazon’s healthcare ambitions and sent a clear message to the medical marketplace that the company is a player. David Lazarus, latimes.com, "Bezos bets $1 billion on the future of healthcare as Trump tells the same old lies," 3 July 2018 When considered against the backdrop of Amazon’s ambitions to become an entertainment powerhouse, there are reasons for publishers to go back to being nervous. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, "Amazon’s Audiobook Boom," 2 July 2018 But along with his nostalgia comes a strong desire for progress, a complex emotional interchange that speaks to Stanton’s ambitions as a filmmaker. Richard Newby, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Wall-E' References That Need to Be Revisited," 27 June 2018

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, "Jared Kushner’s Other Real Estate Empire," 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

1664, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for ambition

Noun

Middle English, from Middle French or Latin; Middle French, from Latin ambition-, ambitio, literally, act of soliciting for votes, from ambire to go around, solicit

Verb

see ambition entry 1

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Statistics for ambition

Last Updated

13 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for ambition

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

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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

: a desire to do things and be active

ambition

noun
am·​bi·​tion | \am-ˈbi-shən \

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.

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More from Merriam-Webster on ambition

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with ambition

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for ambition

Spanish Central: Translation of ambition

Nglish: Translation of ambition for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ambition for Arabic Speakers

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