am·​biv·​a·​lence | \ am-ˈbi-və-lən(t)s How to pronounce ambivalence (audio) \

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

Examples of ambivalence in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web On Tuesday, Schantz apologized for that ambivalence. Theo Mackie, The Arizona Republic, 17 May 2022 Western observers have lambasted India’s steadfast ambivalence. Sadanand Dhume, WSJ, 3 Mar. 2022 The sudden shift from decadeslong ambivalence toward Russia, to 2022’s strong policy stance, is actually characteristic of German politics, says Tyson Barker, head of technology and foreign policy for the German Council on Foreign Relations. Lenora Chu, The Christian Science Monitor, 28 Apr. 2022 Yet despite our long fascination with family history, outsiders have also picked up on an American ambivalence toward it. Caroline Fraser, The New York Review of Books, 27 Apr. 2022 Japan's current ambivalence to the yen's sharp decline is, in many ways, a legacy of the transformations the Plaza intervention set in motion. Fortune, 22 Apr. 2022 The movie is geared to celebrity worshippers who are incapable of perceiving the complexity and ambivalence of Cage’s failed artistic efforts (Wild at Heart, Birdy, Adaptation, Vampire’s Kiss, and Matchstick Men). Armond White, National Review, 22 Apr. 2022 Her initial reaction was a stream of ambivalence and concern. Brooks Sutherland, The Enquirer, 20 Apr. 2022 Many Latin American countries are transforming their laws on social issues amid growing ambivalence over the influence of the Catholic Church in the region. Washington Post, 20 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of ambivalence

1909, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for ambivalence

borrowed from German Ambivalenz, from ambi- ambi- + -valenz, in Äquivalenz equivalence

Note: See note at ambivalent.

Learn More About ambivalence

Time Traveler for ambivalence

Time Traveler

The first known use of ambivalence was in 1909

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near ambivalence




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for ambivalence

Last Updated

20 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Ambivalence.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for ambivalence


am·​biv·​a·​lence | \ am-ˈbiv-ə-lən(t)s How to pronounce ambivalence (audio) \

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 How to pronounce ambivalence (audio) \ adjective
ambivalently adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on ambivalence

Nglish: Translation of ambivalence for Spanish Speakers

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Great Words for Scrabble

  • scrabble tiles that read scrabble quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!