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

Examples of ambitious in a Sentence

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 Economists point to the inherent flaws of central planning and the government’s reluctance to partner with an ambitious if incipient private sector. Foreign Affairs, 20 Feb. 2024 Herschmann found even this ambitious comparison insufficient. Dexter Filkins, The New Yorker, 19 Feb. 2024 The decision to treat hundreds of people also had another benefit for the ambitious Jackson: endearing him to officials across multiple administrations. Michael Kranish, Washington Post, 16 Feb. 2024 Following the group’s ambitious 1974 exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Hernández prevailed upon them to admit her into their ranks. Christopher Knight, Los Angeles Times, 16 Feb. 2024 This setback highlights the immense challenges faced by hyperloop projects, even with substantial backing and ambitious goals. Kurt Knutsson, Cyberguy Report, Fox News, 15 Feb. 2024 Encourage your employees to set ambitious goals and empower them to take ownership of their professional development. Stephanie Dillon, Rolling Stone, 15 Feb. 2024 Emma, on the other hand, is smart, artistic, ambitious, alert to world issues and awkwardly middle-class. Tom Gliatto, Peoplemag, 7 Feb. 2024 Still, Saudi Arabia is increasingly keen to shore up its security and ward off threats from rival Iran, so the kingdom can forge ahead with its ambitious plan to transform its economy and attract huge foreign investment, two regional sources said. Bradford Betz, Fox News, 5 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'ambitious.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

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 1 Mar. 2024.

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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