am·​bu·​la·​to·​ry | \ˈam-byə-lə-ˌtȯr-ē \

Definition of ambulatory 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : able to walk about and not bedridden ambulatory patients

b : performed on or involving an ambulatory patient or an outpatient ambulatory medical care an ambulatory electrocardiogram

2 : of, relating to, or adapted to walking ambulatory exercise also : occurring during a walk an ambulatory conversation

3 : moving from place to place : itinerant for years led an ambulatory life

4 law : capable of being altered a will is ambulatory until the testator's death


plural ambulatories

Definition of ambulatory (Entry 2 of 2)

: a sheltered place (as in a cloister or church) for walking

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Other Words from ambulatory


ambulatorily \ˌam-​byə-​lə-​ˈtȯr-​ə-​lē \ adverb

Examples of ambulatory in a Sentence


ambulatory theatrical companies that brought live theater to small towns across America

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

All hospitals have higher costs than ambulatory surgical centers and independently owned imaging centers because hospitals must operate around the clock. WSJ, "On Paying Too Much to Bend the Knee Again," 27 Aug. 2018 Dental, vision, and mental care will be covered, as will inpatient care, outpatient care, primary care, preventative care, palliative care, ambulatory care, emergency care, maternal care, and newborn care. Tim Higginbotham And Chris Middleman, Vox, "“Medicare-for-all” means something. Don’t let moderates water it down.," 13 July 2018 Other facilities: Six ambulatory care facilities around Greater Cincinnati, a new hospital this year in Butler County. Anne Saker,, "Mike Keating stepping down this year as president and CEO of the Christ Hospital," 21 Feb. 2018 Scripps plans to build a three-story, 85,000-square-foot ambulatory facility to provide non-emergency and outpatient medical services to about 12,750 patients a month. Phil Diehl,, "Scripps medical building approved for Vista Way in Oceanside," 26 June 2018 Built for about $33 million and equipped for another $20 million, the facility is not a hospital or trauma center, but an ambulatory surgical center with 17 medical specialties and imaging and diagnostic services. Ron Hurtibise,, "Cleveland Clinic readies new $53 million Coral Springs Family Health Center," 13 July 2018 In addition to the acute care hospital, the campus includes an outpatient surgery and ambulatory care center, medical arts center and a state-of-the-art cancer treatment center. Allan Vought, The Aegis, "A visionary volunteer steps away from leading Harford's hospitals," 13 July 2018 Raibert had become like Antonio Stradivari, but for ambulatory robots instead of violins. Scott Kirsner,, "After viral YouTube fame, Boston Dynamics is ready to sell its robots," 6 July 2018 Thus employees lack a strong financial incentive to seek out cheaper options, such as using a telemedicine service to diagnose pinkeye or having a hip replaced at an ambulatory surgery center instead of a hospital. Joel Klein, WSJ, "The IRS Can Save American Health Care," 1 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Shares of Envision, which also provides post-acute care and ambulatory-surgery services, have fallen 23% over the past year amid questions about its billing for emergency services and disappointing performance. Aisha Al-muslim, WSJ, "KKR to Acquire Envision Healthcare for $5.5 Billion," 11 June 2018 Under Johnson’s watch, Ingalls developed a network of ambulatory care centers in Calumet City, Crestwood, Flossmoor, South Holland and Tinley Park, and starting in 2015 led Ingalls to pursue a combination with University of Chicago Medicine. Mike Nolan, Daily Southtown, "Ingalls Hospital president to retire," 9 June 2018 In an ambulatory setting, the total cost of Essure procedures was found to be $1,287 per case and laparoscopic procedures $1,398 per case, according to a 2008 study published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada. Jacqueline Howard, CNN, "Essure or surgery? New study compares contraceptive risks," 13 Mar. 2018 For example, Ohio could choose the ambulatory care standards from one benchmark plan and the preventive services from another. Washington Post, "The Health 202: The Trump administration is giving states another way around Obamacare regulations," 7 Feb. 2018 Gonnelli was the developer for LourdesCare at Cherry Hill, a 55,000 square-foot ambulatory care center. Harold Brubaker,, "Lourdes owner files counterclaim against Cooper," 7 Feb. 2018 UnitedHealth has said Optum aims to provide primary care and ambulatory services in 75 markets, representing about two-thirds of the U.S. population. Anna Wilde Mathews, WSJ, "UnitedHealth to Buy Large Doctor Group for $4.9 Billion," 6 Dec. 2017 Calpers changed its benefits five years ago to nudge patients toward the cheaper ambulatory option, a spokesman said, and will expand its plan to include a dozen more surgeries starting in January. Melanie Evans, WSJ, "Warding Off Decline, Hospitals Invest in Outpatient Clinics," 25 Sep. 2017 Boone defends his claims of fraud with a specific formula, dividing the number of ambulatory, handicapped adults in Connecticut by the state’s population. Vinny Vella, Courant Community, "Citing Fraud, Hartford Charges Handicapped Drivers To Park," 5 Sep. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ambulatory.' 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 ambulatory


1598, in the meaning defined at sense 2


circa 1616, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for ambulatory


see ambulate


see ambulate

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Last Updated

23 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for ambulatory

The first known use of ambulatory was in 1598

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More Definitions for ambulatory


am·​bu·​la·​to·​ry | \ˈam-byə-lə-ˌtōr-ē, -ˌtȯr- \

Medical Definition of ambulatory 

1 : of, relating to, or adapted to walking ambulatory exercise

2a : able to walk about and not bedridden an ambulatory patient All patients were ambulatory before hip fracture.— Karim Anton Calis and Frank Pucino, The New England Journal of Medicine, 1 Nov. 2007

b : performed on or involving a patient who is able to walk about Some patients report that ambulatory oxygen therapy helps relieve exercise-related breathlessness.— Dennis E. Niewoehner, The New England Journal of Medicine, 15 Apr. 2010

c : performed on or provided to an outpatient ambulatory care Ambulatory surgical procedures have proliferated in recent years as a result of increases in the cost of inpatient health services.— Mark A. Warner et al., The Journal of the American Medical Association, 22 Sept. 1993 also : relating to or intended for outpatient care ambulatory surgery centers

d : performed on or worn by a patient during the course of normal daily activities (such as working and sleeping) Rather than treat all patients on the basis of office blood pressure readings, some clinicians … maintain that certain patients should first be fitted with ambulatory blood pressure monitors that automatically record their blood pressure every 15 minutes or so throughout the day and night.— Jane E. Brody, The New York Times, 28 Nov. 1995 also : obtained by ambulatory monitoring 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure

Other Words from ambulatory

ambulatorily \ˌam-​byə-​lə-​ˈtōr-​ə-​lē, -​ˈtȯr-​ \ adverb
a patient treated ambulatorily


am·​bu·​la·​to·​ry | \ˈam-byə-lə-ˌtōr-ē \

Legal Definition of ambulatory 

: capable of being altered a will is ambulatory until the testator's death

History and Etymology for ambulatory

Latin ambulatorius, literally, movable, transferable, from ambulare to walk, move, be transferred

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More from Merriam-Webster on ambulatory

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with ambulatory

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for ambulatory

Britannica English: Translation of ambulatory for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about ambulatory

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a soft lustrous wool fabric with mohair

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