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ambition

noun am·bi·tion \ am-ˈbi-shən \

Definition of ambition

1 a :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

ambitionless

play \-ləs\ adjective

Examples of ambition in a Sentence

  1. My first ambition as a child was to be in the circus.

  2. He lacked ambition and couldn't compete with the others.

Recent Examples of ambition from the Web

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.

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.”

Origin and Etymology of ambition

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

Synonym Discussion of ambition

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

2

ambition

verb

Definition of ambition

transitive verb
:to have as one's ambition :desire

Recent Examples of ambition from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of ambition



AMBITION Defined for Kids

ambition

noun am·bi·tion \ am-ˈbi-shən \

Definition of ambition for Students

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.

History for ambition

Like the candidates of today, some men ran for public office in ancient Rome by going around and asking people to vote for them. The Latin word for this practice, ambitio, came from a verb meaning “to go around.” Since looking for votes showed “a desire for power or honor,” the Latin word took on that meaning. The English word ambition came from the Latin word.


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