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

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 This ambivalence has translated into a harder line among some politicians toward the eastern Ukrainians. David L. Stern, Washington Post, "War in eastern Ukraine now seems a distant storm to Kiev," 26 June 2018 Make some space for your own longing and ambivalence, and resolve not to treat these as moral failings on your part. Heather Havrilesky, The Cut, "‘I’m Starting a New Life, But There’s So Much Pressure to Get It Right!’," 30 May 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

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to take the place or position of

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