am·​biv·​a·​lence am-ˈbi-və-lən(t)s How to pronounce ambivalence (audio)
: 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
: continual fluctuation (as between one thing and its opposite)
: uncertainty as to which approach to follow
ambivalence about their goals

Examples of ambivalence in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web In certain respects, though, Lachlan Murdoch’s behavior suggests some ambivalence about his role at News Corp. David Hamilton, Fortune, 24 Sep. 2023 Several party leaders predicted that even voters who voice ambivalence about Biden will ultimately be animated to vote against the Republican choice, especially if that choice is Trump. Colby Itkowitz, Washington Post, 18 Sep. 2023 None of them challenge that convention, yet Wilson is alert to the ambivalence in their stoicism. Judith Thurman, The New Yorker, 11 Sep. 2023 Like their father, this next generation of Arriaga storytellers demonstrate the ability to capture an engrossing ambivalence without easy answers. Carlos Aguilar, Variety, 31 Aug. 2023 Among secular swimmers, there is also an ambivalence about whether this kind of solution fosters a fusion of lifestyles or enshrines their segregation. Gabby Sobelman, New York Times, 5 Aug. 2023 Where did Ona’s ambivalence about fertility and motherhood come from? Allison Armijo, Los Angeles Times, 31 July 2023 Yet the mutiny, during which no one seemed to rally around Putin, also exposed the extent of public ambivalence toward the regime. Andrei Kolesnikov, Foreign Affairs, 22 Aug. 2023 Still, Lacy’s total ambivalence toward his sexuality is radical in its own way. Ethan Shanfeld, Variety, 8 Aug. 2023 See More

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

Word History


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

Note: See note at ambivalent.

First Known Use

1909, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of ambivalence was in 1909

Dictionary Entries Near ambivalence

Cite this Entry

“Ambivalence.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Sep. 2023.

Medical Definition


am·​biv·​a·​lence am-ˈbiv-ə-lən(t)s How to pronounce ambivalence (audio)
: 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 rebellionG. S. Blum
ambivalent adjective
ambivalently adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on ambivalence

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