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 Wisbech wants to be the first female cop, but Rabbit is a little skeptical of her ambition. Alicia Kortendick, oregonlive, "‘Year of the Rabbit’ premiere | How to watch, live stream, time, TV channel," 20 Feb. 2020 The following is a condensed history of U.S. sanctions against Iran: 1970s Iran’s nuclear ambitions date back to the 1960s. Fox News, "US sanctions against Iran: A timeline," 7 Feb. 2020 That could be helpful when and if his own dormant presidential ambitions come back to life. Tom Benning, Dallas News, "So many winners: Impeachment left bitterness but offered something for almost everyone as it turned out," 6 Feb. 2020 Covering 80 years in the life and work of one of the key figures of the American feminist movement, whose influence has stretched across generations, Julie Taymor's nontraditional biopic The Glorias certainly can't be faulted for lack of ambition. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, "'The Glorias': Film Review | Sundance 2020," 27 Jan. 2020 The three main European powers—France, Germany and Britain—were joint architects of a 2015 agreement aimed at limiting Iran’s nuclear ambitions, a pact that has been abandoned by the Trump administration. Stephen Fidler, WSJ, "What’s Behind the EU’s Decline," 19 Jan. 2020 Iran must abandon its nuclear ambitions and end its support for terrorism. John Fritze, USA TODAY, "'Iran will never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon.' Read Donald Trump's remarks on Iran," 8 Jan. 2020 Iran must abandon its nuclear ambitions and end its support for terrorism. NBC News, "Read the full transcript of Trump's Iran speech," 8 Jan. 2020 Palo Verde has long been a concern for U.S. officials intent on limiting Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Jessica Boehm, azcentral, "'I'm afraid to read the news' — Arizonans with ties to Iran are worried as tensions mount," 7 Jan. 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

22 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Ambition.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ambition. Accessed 27 Feb. 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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