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 indetermination (audio) \ noun

Did You Know?

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

That glorious season of fresh pencils and new beginnings, when your kid’s clothes aren’t yet covered in unsightly stains of indeterminate origin, and anything seems possible. Yvonne Abraham,, "This school year is going to be totally different, I swear!," 28 Aug. 2019 The latest revelation involves a massive painting showing a young woman of indeterminate age wearing a wedding ring and cuddled up beside a roaring big cat. Fox News, "Overstock CEO resigns amid ties to Russia probe, says he received 'fishy orders' from ex-FBI official Strzok," 23 Aug. 2019 The creature that stepped into the room was ghoulish, insectile: a woman of indeterminate age, malnourished, her single piece of clothing (a long T-shirt printed with cartoon characters) dangling from the wire hanger of her shoulder blades. J. Robert Lennon, The New Yorker, "The Loop," 19 Aug. 2019 Riding on a camel or in the open back of a jeep, one traverses miles and miles only to encounter more indeterminate vastness. Andrew Solomon, Condé Nast Traveler, "Traveling Through Jordan’s Historic Ruins, Red Dunes, and Dead Sea," 24 July 2019 An indeterminate variety will often just keep adding foliage and does not set fruit in time to beat the hot, or in the fall, the cold weather. Calvin Finch,, "Fall tomato season is almost here," 12 July 2019 As a result, he was summarily ejected from E3 2019, his pass revoked, and suspended from Twitch from an indeterminate amount of time. NBC News, "Dancing tomatoes and llama pinatas? This must be a gaming convention.," 26 June 2019 Richard Shepard's quirky comedic crime tale gave him a delicious character to play in Mr. Fontaine, a suave crime lord with an oddly indeterminate accent and a dangerous edge. Randy Cordova, azcentral, "Before watching Demián Bichir's new show 'Grand Hotel,' make sure you see these 5 films," 11 June 2019 Drinking a lot of plain celery juice, which William believes contains a compound that can get rid of copper in the body over a long, indeterminate period of time. Rachel Lubitz,, "We Spoke To Kim Kardashian's "Medical Medium" About Her Psoriasis Struggle," 15 June 2019

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 above

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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Statistics for indeterminate

Last Updated

12 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for indeterminate

The first known use of indeterminate was in 1603

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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

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More from Merriam-Webster on indeterminate

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for indeterminate

Spanish Central: Translation of indeterminate

Nglish: Translation of indeterminate for Spanish Speakers

Comments on indeterminate

What made you want to look up indeterminate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


involving a confidence or trust

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