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 \ -​ləs How to pronounce ambitionless (audio) \ 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

Krakauer’s excellent book was widely read as a cautionary tale, featuring some climbers with more ambition than experience (sound familiar?) operating in an unremittingly hostile environment. Michael Kodas, The Denver Post, "Guest Commentary: Mount Everest is packed. Whose fault is that?," 7 June 2019 Jimmie is easygoing, adaptive, and filled with ambition to prove his worth. Nathan Heller, The New Yorker, "“The Last Black Man in San Francisco” and the Fear of Being Erased," 7 June 2019 The rise of a neo-Ottoman Turkey, with a population seven times that of Greece, a territory six times as large and renewed territorial ambitions in the Greek Aegean, has made Greece turn to the U.S. military for protection. Victor Davis Hanson, The Mercury News, "Hanson: Greece finds new footing as a player on the world stage," 6 June 2019 But Obama’s 21st-century worldview had no effective response to those ambitions. Jim Geraghty, National Review, "Jim Sciutto’s Quiet Indictment of the Obama Administration," 6 June 2019 The 2019 #EmbraceAmbition speaker series, hosted during the first week of Women's History Month, brings together women across the country to discuss entrepreneurship and how to follow our ambition in all aspects of our lives. Rachel Epstein, Marie Claire, "Tory Burch's #EmbraceAmbition Series Will Inspire You to Start Your Own Business," 8 Mar. 2019 President Trump on Tuesday announced plans to leave the Iran nuclear deal, declaring the pact has failed to halt the country’s nuclear ambitions in perhaps the biggest foreign policy decision of his administration. Alex Pappas, Fox News, "Trump vows to withdraw from Iran nuclear agreement, calls pact ‘defective at its core’," 2 Oct. 2018 The ban, which applied to six majority-Muslim nations, represented the audacity of Trump's ambition in the early days of his administration — but also, over the past year, the potential legal limits of his authority. David Nakamura, chicagotribune.com, "Travel ban ruling could embolden Trump in remaking U.S. immigration system," 26 June 2018 Image Spotify has hired Dawn Ostroff, a veteran television and video executive, as its new chief content officer, a move that may signal the music service’s wider ambitions in media. Ben Sisario, New York Times, "Spotify, Nodding to Broader Ambitions, Hires Chief Content Officer," 26 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 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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Statistics for ambition

Last Updated

14 Jun 2019

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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
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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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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