Definition of ambition
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
ambitionlessplay \-ləs\ adjective
Examples of ambition in a Sentence
My first ambition as a child was to be in the circus.
He lacked ambition and couldn't compete with the others.
Did You Know?
When candidates for public offi ce 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
First Known Use: 14th century
Synonym Discussion of ambition
Definition of ambition
: to have as one's ambition : desire
AMBITION Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of ambition for English Language Learners
: 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 Defined for Kids
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.
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up ambition? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).