am·​biv·​a·​lence | \ am-ˈbi-və-lən(t)s \

Definition of ambivalence

1 : simultaneous and contradictory attitudes or feelings (such as attraction and repulsion) toward an object, person, or action felt ambivalence toward his powerful father ambivalence toward marriage
2a : continual fluctuation (as between one thing and its opposite)
b : uncertainty as to which approach to follow ambivalence about their goals

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Examples of ambivalence in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Most actual sibling relationships tend to go from forgiveness to ambivalence to appreciation and back again within the span of, like, a day. Cady Drell, Marie Claire, "7 Things to Love About 'To All The Boys I've Loved Before'," 17 Aug. 2018 Each of these scores is derived by taking the difference between words that belong in the category that indicates certainty, optimism, etc. and those that exemplify its opposite — ambivalence, pessimism, etc. Julia Azari, Vox, "Who wrote the anonymous White House op-ed? A linguistic analysis.," 7 Sep. 2018 Trump’s continued inconsistency on Russia, paired with occasional ambivalence about NATO, has added to international uncertainty about U.S. commitments. Justin Vaughn, Washington Post, "We asked experts to grade Trump’s first year as a president. Here’s what they said.," 19 Jan. 2018 For the moment though, there are few signs that president Trump has any ambivalence about pressing ahead with a worldwide trade war, even in the face of high (economic) casualties. Eric Levitz, Daily Intelligencer, "On Eve of Trade War, China Warns That Trump’s Tariffs Will Backfire," 5 July 2018 Either way, the polls signal broad ambivalence at best about creating a new military service. Sean Gallagher, Ars Technica, "Polls show little support for Trump’s Space Force," 16 Aug. 2018 There’s an intense ambivalence on display, between the success of the individual and the state of the people—a tension that Ta-Nehisi Coates described in his recent interrogation of Kanye West’s newfound Trumpism. Sonia Saraiya, HWD, "The Survival Instincts of Atlanta’s Flawless Second Season," 11 May 2018 Well, the reactions of Hawaii residents to the Kilauea volcano eruptions, as told to the Washington Post, range from ambivalence to devastation to nonchalance. Aubrey Nagle,, "Trump exits Iran deal, Pa. prepares for primaries | Morning Newsletter," 9 May 2018 But the country’s ambivalence to free trade also has deeper historical roots. Ryan Lenora Brown, The Christian Science Monitor, "What noodles can teach us about Nigeria's reluctance on free trade," 9 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ambivalence.' 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 ambivalence

1909, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for ambivalence

International Scientific Vocabulary

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More Definitions for ambivalence


am·​biv·​a·​lence | \ am-ˈbiv-ə-lən(t)s \

Medical Definition of ambivalence

: simultaneous and contradictory attitudes or feelings (as attraction and repulsion) toward an object, person, or action ambivalence which is expressed in behavior by alternating obedience and rebellion— G. S. Blum

Other Words from ambivalence

ambivalent \ -​lənt \ adjective
ambivalently adverb

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More from Merriam-Webster on ambivalence

Spanish Central: Translation of ambivalence

Nglish: Translation of ambivalence for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ambivalence for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about ambivalence

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