am·​bi·​tious am-ˈbi-shəs How to pronounce ambitious (audio)
: having or controlled by ambition : having a desire to be successful, powerful, or famous
an ambitious young executive
: having a desire to achieve a particular goal : aspiring
ambitious for power
: resulting from, characterized by, or showing ambition
an ambitious film
ambitiously adverb
ambitiousness noun

Example Sentences

The company was created by two very ambitious young men in the early 1900s. This 500-page book is her most ambitious effort yet. Your plans for the future are very ambitious. It was too ambitious a task for just one person.
Recent Examples on the Web Unlike the rush of men who fled haphazardly to countries bordering Russia in the wake of Putin’s mobilization announcement, the Russians arriving in Dubai generally have more money and more ambitious plans. Brian Rohan, Washington Post, 17 Nov. 2022 Amazon has ambitious plans in the healthcare industry. Jennifer Calfas, WSJ, 15 Nov. 2022 And there was a host of other ambitious plans that had gotten nowhere, including stricter emissions for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. Jan Ellen Spiegel, Hartford Courant, 2 Nov. 2022 Just 26 of 193 countries that agreed last year to step up their climate actions have followed through with more ambitious plans. Heather Souvaine Horn, The New Republic, 28 Oct. 2022 Despite their ambitious climate plans, India is also investing more in coal, at least in the short-term. Sibi Arasu, ajc, 28 Oct. 2022 Despite their ambitious climate plans, India is also investing more in coal, at least in the short-term. Sibi Arasu,, 28 Oct. 2022 The company has ambitious plans to expand solar and wind power installations near the port, but most of the electricity in Adani’s special economic zone in Mundra comes from coal. Hari Kumar, New York Times, 28 Oct. 2022 Coca-Cola said its participation underscores its ambitious plans to cut its emissions and clean up plastic ocean trash. Kelvin Chan, Chicago Tribune, 24 Oct. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ambitious.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


Middle English ambicious "overweening, craving," borrowed from Middle French & Latin; Middle French ambicieus "striving for success, seeking glory," borrowed from Latin ambitiōsus "anxious to win favor, eager for advancement," from ambitiō "act of soliciting for votes, desire for advancement" + -ōsus -ous — more at ambition entry 1

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of ambitious was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near ambitious

Cite this Entry

“Ambitious.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition



am·​bi·​tious am-ˈbish-əs How to pronounce ambitious (audio)
: controlled by or having ambition
ambitious to be captain of the team
: showing ambition
an ambitious plan
ambitiously adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on ambitious

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