nebulous

adjective
neb·​u·​lous | \ ˈne-byə-ləs How to pronounce nebulous (audio) \

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

Which eased pressure on addressing a more nebulous problem, poverty. Christopher Borrelli, chicagotribune.com, "Reagan used her, the country hated her. Decades later, the Welfare Queen of Chicago refuses to go away," 7 June 2019 When Brexit was an ideal, nebulous, undefined notion, just about 52% of the electorate could coalesce around it. Jonathan Coe, Time, "How Brexit Broke Britain and Revealed a Country at War With Itself," 6 June 2019 Americana is such a broad and nebulous umbrella idea as to almost be meaningless as a genre term. John Adamian, courant.com, "Guitarist William Tyler playing Space Ballroom," 7 June 2019 While plans remain nebulous, the U.S., China, Russia and Europe have all discussed building moon bases in the coming decades. Jake Parks, Discover Magazine, "The Global Race to Return to the Moon," 20 May 2019 On Wednesday, Republican members of Congress seemed fixated on the idea that Twitter has long displayed unnecessary bias against Republicans through the nebulous practice. Aja Romano, Vox, "How hysteria over Twitter shadow-banning led to a bizarre congressional hearing," 6 Sep. 2018 Stafford-Bridge avoids Instagram makeup or any on-trend looks to keep the time period feeling nebulous. Leah Prinzivalli, Allure, "Chilling Adventures of Sabrina," 5 Apr. 2019 Or maybe your time is spent trying to drill down nebulous ideas from an executive who didn’t put an action plan in place. WSJ, "Stop Wasting Money and Start Saving Time: A Guide to Being Smart With Both," 8 Dec. 2018 Despite the excited, headlong rush of the writing—not since Humbert Humbert has so much impassioned prose been lavished on so nebulous a love-object—the overall tone is elegiac. John Banville, WSJ, "‘Sleeping With Strangers’ Review: Flickers of Desire," 22 Feb. 2019

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

9 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

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

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

nebulous

adjective
neb·​u·​lous | \ ˈne-byə-ləs How to pronounce nebulous (audio) \

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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