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

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of ambivalence in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

On Thursday, his successor, Justice Kavanaugh, who previously had little record on the issue, evinced no such ambivalence. Brent Kendall, WSJ, "Supreme Court Declines to Set Limits on Political Gerrymandering," 27 June 2019 Also included in that ambivalence is president of basketball operation Danny Ainge’s draft history, especially later in the first round. Gary Washburn,, "Celtics want to trade up in NBA Draft, but are they working on a big deal?," 19 June 2019 How To Change The Subject Aside from ambivalence, baby showers and the like also tend to bring up general anxiety about our own paths — especially when your Aunt Donna or your friend's mom takes to straight up asking you about it. Amelia Harnish,, "We've Reached Peak Party. Now What?," 1 June 2019 This isn't the first time Clarke expressed ambivalence about the show's ending. Julie Kosin, Harper's BAZAAR, "Emilia Clarke Reacts to Daenerys's Shocking Game of Thrones Massacre," 13 May 2019 Earlier this season, the 34-year-old James expressed ambivalence about the possibility of shutting himself down early, saying such a decision would clash with his natural competitiveness. Greg Beacham, The Seattle Times, "LeBron James to sit out last 6 games of Lakers’ season," 31 Mar. 2019 One afternoon last week, ahead of Tuesday’s primary in the Colorado governor’s race, Mr. Hause hosted one of the leading Democratic candidates, Representative Jared Polis, and reflected on his journey from political ambivalence to activism. New York Times, "Meet Colorado’s New Single-Issue Voters: The Cannabis Community," 25 June 2018 The performance, devoid of obvious vanity, honors the character's distracted ambivalence. Charles Mcnulty,, "A revelatory Denzel Washington in 'The Iceman Cometh'," 10 May 2018 Thirty-eight percent approved either slightly or strongly, and 13 percent reported ambivalence. Sarah Jones, New Republic, "Is Ted Cruz’s re-election bid in trouble?," 29 Jan. 2018

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.

See More

First Known Use of ambivalence

1909, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for ambivalence

International Scientific Vocabulary

Keep scrolling for more

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


food or victuals

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
True or False

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


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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