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 ambitionless (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 Admittedly, Hitmen doesn't profess the ambition of those other comedies. Inkoo Kang, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Hitmen': TV Review," 4 Aug. 2020 The third-place finish, although not befitting of the club's true ambition, must be seen as progress and attention can now turn to winning the Europa League, which is set to resume on August 5. Ben Church, CNN, "How Bruno Fernandes transformed Manchester United's fortunes," 4 Aug. 2020 Since when is lack of ambition a requirement for any job, much less one that involves running the country? Michelle Ruiz, Vogue, "The Veep Watch: Some People Seem to Have a Problem With Kamala Harris’s ‘Ambition.’ I Wonder Why.," 3 Aug. 2020 For those with the ambition to hold such a job, the type of risky, well, leap Johnson is about to take may be price of admission. Kristen Bellstrom, Fortune, "Microsoft’s Peggy Johnson claims a spot on the tech industry’s glass cliff," 7 July 2020 Gain altitude and strength by being ready to assist your partner with a key ambition. Tribune Content Agency, oregonlive, "Horoscope for June 12, 2020: Libra take a different angle; Sagittarius, highlight best qualities," 12 June 2020 Their 12-year-old son’s ambition is to become a military general and their 10-year-old son is a good athlete. Robyn Dixon, Washington Post, "‘We feel absolutely abandoned’: How the pandemic in Russia tanked the economy and plunged families into crisis," 2 July 2020 To chart a course of high climate ambition and small government, mechanisms like a carbon tax are necessary. Jeff Berardelli, CBS News, ""We are at a crossroads": House Democrats release plan to address climate crisis," 30 June 2020 Since its founding in 2014, Zoox has been known for its technical chops, its secretiveness, and its sky-high ambition. Aarian Marshall, Wired, "Amazon Shakes Up the Race for Self-Driving—and Ride-Hailing," 26 June 2020 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 and Verb

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

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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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Statistics for ambition

Last Updated

8 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Ambition.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ambition. Accessed 14 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for ambition

ambition

noun
How to pronounce ambition (audio)

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.

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Comments on ambition

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