Definition of vague
2a : not clearly defined, grasped, or understood : indistinct only a vague notion of what's needed; also : slight a vague hint of a thickening waistline hasn't the vaguest ideab : not clearly felt or sensed : somewhat subconscious a vague longing
3 : not thinking or expressing one's thoughts clearly or precisely vague about dates and places
4 : lacking expression : vacant vague eyes a vague stare
5 : not sharply outlined : hazy met by vague figures with shaded torchlights — Earle Birney
Examples of vague in a Sentence
When my three years of military service ended, I looked around for some way to get to spend time in rural Vietnam as a civilian. The driving force was still primarily intellectual curiosity, along with a desire to improve my language ability in a non-Western language and some vague idea of doing folkloristic or literary studies in the future. —Neil L. Jamieson, Understanding Vietnam, (1993) 1995
There are vague memories in our souls of those misty centuries when the world was in its childhood. —Arthur Conan Doyle, A Study in Scarlet, 1887
At the end of half an hour Tom had a vague general idea of his lesson, but no more, for his mind was traversing the whole field of human thought, and his hands were busy with distracting recreations. —Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer, 1876
It thrilled him with a vague uncertain horror, to know that behind the dusky shroud, there were ghostly eyes intently fixed upon him, while he, though he stretched his own to the utmost, could see nothing but a spectral hand and one great heap of black. —Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, 1843
The instructions she left were vague and difficult to follow.
He gave only a vague answer.
The judges determined that the law was too vague to be fairly enforced.
She has been vague about her plans for college.
We had only a vague idea of where we were.
I think I have a vague understanding of how it works.
He longed in some vague way for something different.
She felt a vague sense of uneasiness when she was around him.
I had the vague impression that they were withholding information.
We could just barely make out the vague outline of a plane in the sky.
Recent Examples of vague from the Web
Some of Mr Lighthizer’s ideas are potentially ambitious but vague.
The Vice Chair’s letter also contained a list of vague inquiries about the election policies and laws of the Commonwealth.
But authorities warned that even a vague radio distress call can be enough to launch an expensive search by boat or helicopter requiring emergency crews to scan hundreds of miles of blue waters for a threat that doesn't exist.
Amanda Seyfried and husband Thomas Sadoski welcomed their first child in March, and the acting couple has been pretty vague on details about the baby girl so far.
Blame the softly sprung suspension that lets the body bob and weave with every turn of the vague and lifeless steering wheel.
Kevin Murphy offered only a vague explanation during his sentencing in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court.
Ted Cruz, a principled conservative who would never condone violence against the media, thirstily made some vague, nonsensical allusions suggesting that CNN may have committed a crime.
The press release states that the identifying information regarding the suspects is vague and the reason the males entered the home is unclear.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'vague.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Origin and Etymology of vague
borrowed from French, going back to Middle French, going back to Old French, “wandering, vagabond,” borrowed from Latin vagus “moving freely, wandering,” perhaps akin to Old High German wankōn “to totter, stagger,” winkan “to waver, stagger, wink,” Old English wincian “to close the eyes” — more at 1wink
First Known Use: 1548See Words from the same year
Synonym Discussion of vague
VAGUE Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of vague for English Language Learners
: not clear in meaning : stated in a way that is general and not specific
: not thinking or expressing your thoughts clearly or precisely
: not completely formed or developed
VAGUE Defined for Kids
Definition of vague for Students
1 : not clearly expressed a vague answer
2 : not clearly understood or sensed They knew in a vague way what they wanted.
3 : not clearly outlined At first Rosalind could see only vague shapes … — Jeanne Birdsall, The Penderwicks
Legal Definition of vague
: characterized by such a lack of precision that a person of ordinary intelligence would have to guess if particular conduct is being proscribed : characterized by a failure to describe forbidden conduct in terms sufficient to provide fair warning an unconstitutionally vague law — see also void-for-vagueness doctrine — compare overbroad
Seen and Heard
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