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

Sunday’s results only partially reflected the SPD’s deep ambivalence: 66 percent of its voters endorsed the new coalition, with 34 percent rejecting it. Griff Witte, Washington Post, "Germany will finally have a government after Social Democrats clear the way for Merkel’s fourth term," 4 Mar. 2018 This charming ambivalence extends to the show's story and characters. Jack Helbig, Chicago Reader, "After 139 years, Pirates of Penzance is still a satisfying combination of sweet and salty," 27 June 2018 One senses a certain ambivalence even in Bernice King's reaction to the Super Bowl ad. Michael Hiltzik,, "That Dodge trucks Super Bowl ad shows it's time to loosen the King family's grip on MLK's legacy," 5 Feb. 2018 Remain won that round, but British ambivalence over Europe has never gone away. Walter Russell Mead, WSJ, "Charles de Gaulle Saw Brexit Coming," 21 Jan. 2019 This finding held true regardless of the way employees rated their overall relationship with their manager — ambivalence made bad relationships and otherwise good relationships worse. Katie Heaney, The Cut, "Why It’s Better to Hate Your Boss Than to Feel Ambivalent Toward Them," 2 July 2018 Most actual sibling relationships tend to go from forgiveness to ambivalence to appreciation and back again within the span of, like, a day. Cady Drell, Marie Claire, "7 Things to Love About 'To All The Boys I've Loved Before'," 17 Aug. 2018 Each of these scores is derived by taking the difference between words that belong in the category that indicates certainty, optimism, etc. and those that exemplify its opposite — ambivalence, pessimism, etc. Julia Azari, Vox, "Who wrote the anonymous White House op-ed? A linguistic analysis.," 7 Sep. 2018 Trump’s continued inconsistency on Russia, paired with occasional ambivalence about NATO, has added to international uncertainty about U.S. commitments. Justin Vaughn, Washington Post, "We asked experts to grade Trump’s first year as a president. Here’s what they said.," 19 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.

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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 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).


an enemy or opponent

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