nebulous

adjective
neb·​u·​lous | \ˈne-byə-ləs \

Definition of nebulous 

1 : of, relating to, or resembling a nebula : nebular

2 : indistinct, vague … this nebulous thing called jazz.— Josef Woodard … the nebulous region between mere suspicion and probable cause— W. R. LaFave & J. H. Israel The plan is too nebulous.

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Other Words from nebulous

nebulously adverb
nebulousness noun

Did You Know?

Nebulous comes from the Latin word nebulosus, meaning "misty," which in turn comes from nebula, meaning "mist," "fog," or "cloud." In the 18th century, English speakers borrowed "nebula" and gave it a somewhat more specific meaning than the Latin version. In English, "nebula" refers to a cloud of gas or dust in deep space, or in less technical contexts, simply to a galaxy. "Nebulous" itself, when it doesn't have interstellar implications, usually means "cloudy" or "foggy" in a figurative sense. One's memory of a long-past event, for example, will often be nebulous; a teenager might give a nebulous recounting of an evening's events upon coming home; or a politician might make a campaign promise but give only a nebulous description of how he or she would fulfill it.

Examples of nebulous in a Sentence

These philosophical concepts can be nebulous. made nebulous references to some major changes the future may hold

Recent Examples on the Web

As the world becomes more nebulous, the census-takers succumb to political pressure, faking information missing from their surveys. The Economist, "China’s statistics are bad. Many criticisms of them are worse," 7 July 2018 Trump is casually accusing his political opponents of treason while arguing that there must be an ironclad quid pro quo for his campaign to have been guilty of a related but more nebulous crime — collusion. Aaron Blake, Washington Post, "Trump keeps throwing around the word ‘treason’ — which may not be a great idea," 15 May 2018 Missouri’s Drew Lock is another one of the passers being tossed into this currently nebulous first-round category. Conor Orr, SI.com, "An NFL Fan’s Viewing Guide to the 2019 College Football Season," 13 July 2018 In this smart, incisive page-turner, Alger takes her precise understanding of the financial world and zooms in on the nebulous business of offshore banking. Steph Cha, USA TODAY, "Smart women get caught up in deadly intrigue in page-turning 'The Banker's Wife'," 2 July 2018 Officially, the other AC casinos are planning sportsbooks, but executives aren’t commenting beyond releasing nebulous statements. Ed Barkowitz, Philly.com, "Sports betting comes to Atlantic City boardwalk on Thursday with opening of Ocean Resort," 27 June 2018 Because Thrun was focused on the self-driving team (and after 2012, on his online education startup, Udacity), his codirector, Astro Teller, took the helm of a ship whose purpose and direction remained nebulous. Alex Davies, WIRED, "Inside X, the Moonshot Factory Racing to Build the Next Google," 11 July 2018 One of these searching souls will be left holding the nebulous prize by book’s end. Terry Hong, The Christian Science Monitor, "'What We Were Promised' depicts post-Mao China in a deft debut novel set in Shanghai," 13 July 2018 Gig workers’ nebulous existence, somewhere between employees and traditional contractors, has instigated several lawsuits. Lauren Markham, The Atlantic, "The Immigrants Fueling the Gig Economy," 20 June 2018

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

1674, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for nebulous

Latin nebulosus misty, from nebula

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Statistics for nebulous

Last Updated

15 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for nebulous

The first known use of nebulous was in 1674

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More Definitions for nebulous

nebulous

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of nebulous

: not clear : difficult to see, understand, describe, etc.

nebulous

adjective
neb·​u·​lous | \ˈne-byə-ləs \

Kids Definition of nebulous

: not clear : vague

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More from Merriam-Webster on nebulous

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for nebulous

Spanish Central: Translation of nebulous

Nglish: Translation of nebulous for Spanish Speakers

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