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

Examples of ambivalence in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

The clearest sign of the government’s ambivalence came in 2008, when the economy took a turn for the worse and unemployment rose. The Economist, "Japan is finally starting to admit more foreign workers," 5 July 2018 And every week, viewers have been left shrugging in ambivalence. Mike Scott,, "'Southern Charm New Orleans' Episode 7: Or, the one in which Tamica Lee gets served," 29 May 2018 In the past, Beijing could count on American corporations to press the White House and Congress to soften their stance on China, but there’s a lot more ambivalence today. Don Lee, The Seattle Times, "China’s ‘warning shot,’ U.S. moves signal possible trade war," 19 Jan. 2018 Both are devoted to Lampy, but their devotion is no consolation for his previous girlfriend having left him, nor for his ambivalence about his current girlfriend. Margot Livesey,, "Braiding lives of a Syrian refugee, a failed 23-year-old, and elderly accountant," 13 July 2018 Clarke conveys the weight of this, and Ted’s ambivalence about it. Gary Thompson,, "'Chappaquiddick': Political power and alternative facts, '60s style," 4 Apr. 2018 Voter ambivalence about the direction of the EU has helped further fracture parliament. Drew Hinshaw, WSJ, "Czech Premier Reaches Power-Sharing Deal With Communists," 10 July 2018 European nations, especially NATO nations, are very concerned about the ambivalence that’s being signaled from the U.S. towards NATO—whether its commitments to the defensive umbrella are credible or not. Heather Souvaine Horn, The New Republic, "Is It Fair for Trump to Bash NATO Over Military Spending?," 12 July 2018 DeWitt beautifully dramatizes the ambivalence that Sibylla feels about her grand project. James Wood, The New Yorker, "Helen DeWitt Has Your Number," 27 Oct. 2017

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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to make amends

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