in·​de·​ter·​mi·​nate | \ ˌin-di-ˈtərm-nət How to pronounce indeterminate (audio) , -ˈtər-mə- \

Definition of indeterminate

1a : not definitely or precisely determined or fixed : vague
b : not known in advance
c : not leading to a definite end or result
2 : having an infinite number of solutions a system of indeterminate equations
3 : being one of the seven undefined mathematical expressions {latex}\frac{0}{0}, \frac{\infty}{\infty}, \infty \cdot 0, 1^{\infty}, 0^{0}, \infty^{0}, \infty - \infty{/latex}
4 : characterized by sequential flowering from the lateral or basal buds to the central or uppermost buds also : characterized by growth in which the main stem continues to elongate indefinitely without being limited by a terminal inflorescence — compare determinate sense 4

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Other Words from indeterminate

indeterminately adverb
indeterminateness noun
indetermination \ ˌin-​di-​ˌtər-​mə-​ˈnā-​shən How to pronounce indeterminate (audio) \ noun

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When you determine something, you decide on what it is, which means you put limits or boundaries on its identity. So something indeterminate lacks identifying limits. A mutt is usually the product of indeterminate breeding, since at least the father's identity is generally a mystery. A painting of indeterminate origins is normally less valued than one with the painter's name on it. And if negotiations are left in an indeterminate state, nothing has been decided.

Examples of indeterminate in a Sentence

an indeterminate number of people
Recent Examples on the Web High yielding and indeterminate varieties appear to be more susceptible. oregonlive, 18 July 2021 The floating dollar was logically the crisis simply because money with indeterminate value quite simply isn’t. John Tamny, Forbes, 5 July 2021 Beginning in 1927, an indeterminate number of people were killed as a result of the internal political struggle, though some estimate that as many as 4.9 million died during the civil war. Caitlin Mcfall, Fox News, 1 July 2021 Second place receives a fabulous soft rubbery hand puppet depicting a, well, some indeterminate aquatic creature; guesses included a shark, barracuda, alligator and dinosaur. Washington Post, 1 July 2021 Heading into regionals, the race for Saturday’s state championship in girls track and field was wildly indeterminate. David Woods, The Indianapolis Star, 4 June 2021 Now, the country is facing the prospect of an election at an indeterminate future point without the party that won the most votes from citizens. New York Times, 24 May 2021 Each stars a different actor (or in one case, two) in the indeterminate future confronted with problems of technology, family, personal demons or all of the above. Kelly Lawler, USA TODAY, 21 May 2021 Provide good airflow by spacing plants appropriately, staking as necessary, and pruning indeterminate tomatoes. oregonlive, 3 Apr. 2021

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

1603, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for indeterminate

Middle English indeterminat, from Late Latin indeterminatus, from Latin in- + determinatus, past participle of determinare to determine

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Time Traveler for indeterminate

Time Traveler

The first known use of indeterminate was in 1603

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Statistics for indeterminate

Last Updated

22 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Indeterminate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jul. 2021.

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More Definitions for indeterminate



English Language Learners Definition of indeterminate

formal : not able to be stated or described in an exact way


in·​de·​ter·​mi·​nate | \ ˌin-di-ˈtərm-(ə-)nət How to pronounce indeterminate (audio) \

Medical Definition of indeterminate

: relating to, being, or undergoing indeterminate cleavage an indeterminate egg

More from Merriam-Webster on indeterminate

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for indeterminate

Nglish: Translation of indeterminate for Spanish Speakers


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