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

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Examples of ambivalence in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web There's a lot of ambivalence about being alone and single in America in the 21st century. Betsy Blumenthal, Condé Nast Traveler, "Author Namwali Serpell Gets Her Best Ideas on Planes and Trains," 21 Oct. 2019 Testifying in federal court on Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019, Priscilla Coleman said women seeking abortions experience high levels of ambivalence and uncertainty. Travis Loller, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Tennessee’s abortion waiting period trial goes to judge," 26 Sep. 2019 Financial markets are sharing that spirit of ambivalence. Kevin Kelleher, Fortune, "Here’s Why the Fed is So Conflicted on Whether There’s a Recession Coming," 18 Sep. 2019 The Labour Party has its own woes, with many of the party’s lawmakers uneasy about Corbyn’s firm left-wing views and ambivalence over the EU. Time, "U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson Shakes Off a Rocky Start to the Elections," 7 Nov. 2019 The Labour Party has its own woes, with many of the party's lawmakers uneasy about Corbyn's firm left-wing views and ambivalence over the EU. Danica Kirka And Jill Lawless,, "U.K. election is on: Prime Minister Boris Johnson compares chief rival to Josef Stalin," 6 Nov. 2019 Haynes’s androgynous look was the outward sign of his increasing ambivalence toward middle-class convention. John Lahr, The New Yorker, "Todd Haynes Rewrites the Hollywood Playbook," 4 Nov. 2019 The brazen turn at least gives McFadden’s narrative room to inflict moral ambivalence on his implicitly racist set of characters. Carlos Aguilar, Los Angeles Times, "Review: ‘Doubting Thomas’ takes on racial biases through didactic oversimplification," 10 Oct. 2019 Shoppers who once coveted leather jackets and shoes are instead scooping up cheaper, synthetic alternatives, reflecting a growing ambivalence toward this former staple of American closets. Lydia Mulvany, Fortune, "There’s a Cowhide Glut, As Americans Devour Beef and Leather Falls Out of Fashion," 9 Aug. 2019

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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Time Traveler for ambivalence

Time Traveler

The first known use of ambivalence was in 1909

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Statistics for ambivalence

Last Updated

2 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Ambivalence.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 10 December 2019.

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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 ambivalent (audio) \ 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

Comments on ambivalence

What made you want to look up ambivalence? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to state or do over again or repeatedly

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