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

With the opening, 21c further cements its rep as a mini-chain with outsize ambition. Erin Florio, Condé Nast Traveler, "Kansas City's Latest Hotel is Also the City's Newest Art Museum," 17 July 2018 The company, which has yet to be named, is being launched with lofty ambitions: to find innovative ways to improve health care for employees of the three companies. Justin Chen, STAT, "How can Atul Gawande help reinvent health care with his new company? These people have some ideas," 21 June 2018 The latest calendar, lensed by renowned photographer Albert Watson, has a cinematic theme to it as the photographer has tapped four women to play characters and tell a story of the changing nature of ambition and success. Chrissy Rutherford, Harper's BAZAAR, "Gigi Hadid Talks Success and Loneliness for the 2019 Pirelli Calendar," 26 July 2018 Take the arrival of Margery Tyrell to King's Landing, who has competing ambition to take the throne for House Tyrell, for example. Glamour, "Game of Thrones," 12 Apr. 2019 For most, the obstacles that stand in the way of achieving these ambitions are insurmountable. Sarah Butrymowicz, Marie Claire, "Refugee Girls Want to Change the World. Will We Let Them?," 7 Jan. 2019 Several candidates in the 2018 midterm elections ran on clean energy ambitions. Umair Irfan, Vox, "Climate and energy news in 2018 actually wasn’t all bad," 1 Jan. 2019 What scares me the most: An entire generation seems to be ignorant to the notion of authentic ambition. Zach Schermele, Teen Vogue, "Helicopter Parenting Is Usually More Subtle Than Paying for Kids to Get Into School," 22 Mar. 2019 The Polish military is looking to the United States for help in pushing back against Vladimir Putin’s ambitions for Eastern Europe. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "It Looks Like A U.S. Air Base Is Coming To Poland," 13 Mar. 2019

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

17 May 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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a strong desire or propensity

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