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 As Obama pressed ahead with his agenda despite public ambivalence and hostility, his party lost one chamber of Congress, one governor’s mansion, one state legislature after another. Matthew Continetti, National Review, "Obama III," 12 Dec. 2020 But his ambivalence about face masks has become a matter of our national security. Washington Post, "Trump’s refusal to wear face masks turned them into a sad national symbol," 3 Oct. 2020 Five miles across turbulent seas is the island of Lewis, which offers supplies, boat repairs and the comparative human comforts of a pub, notwithstanding the attitude of some who retain an ambivalence toward English lairds. Annalena Mcafee, WSJ, "Five Best: Memoirs of the Scottish Highlands," 18 Dec. 2020 Several polls have shown the ambivalence surrounding the vaccine among minorities. Nada Hassanein, USA TODAY, "There's skepticism in minority communities about COVID-19 vaccines. Here's how women of color can help swing the momentum.," 14 Dec. 2020 The ambivalence is embodied in Cecilia Villalobos, Urique’s former director of tourism and co-organizer of the town’s famous race. Martin Fritz Huber, Outside Online, "This New Film Debunks the Tarahumara Myth," 8 Dec. 2020 Despite the public's ambivalence, the International Olympic Committee and Japanese organizers have unwavering support from Japan's ruling party and Tokyo's municipal government. Yuri Kageyama, Star Tribune, "Critics speak out on Tokyo Olympic costs, pandemic, fairness," 12 Nov. 2020 But as the backlash mounted, the association’s ambivalence solidified into resistance. Mary Carole Mccauley,, "Baltimore Museum of Art director Chris Bedford tries to change the world. So why does he make some people so angry?," 20 Nov. 2020 The prime minister’s ambivalence pointed to a painstaking political calculation. Noga Tarnopolsky, Los Angeles Times, "What a Biden win means for Israel’s vehemently pro-Trump prime minister," 19 Nov. 2020

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

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

Note: See note at ambivalent.

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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

20 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Ambivalence.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jan. 2021.

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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 ambivalence (audio) \ adjective
ambivalently adverb

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