vague

adjective
\ ˈvāg How to pronounce vague (audio) \
vaguer; vaguest

Definition of vague

1a : not clearly expressed : stated in indefinite terms vague accusations
b : not having a precise meaning a vague term of abuse
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 idea
b : 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

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Other Words from vague

vagueness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for vague

Synonyms

Antonyms

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Choose the Right Synonym for vague

obscure, dark, vague, enigmatic, cryptic, ambiguous, equivocal mean not clearly understandable. obscure implies a hiding or veiling of meaning through some inadequacy of expression or withholding of full knowledge. obscure poems dark implies an imperfect or clouded revelation often with ominous or sinister suggestion. muttered dark hints of revenge vague implies a lack of clear formulation due to inadequate conception or consideration. a vague sense of obligation enigmatic stresses a puzzling, mystifying quality. enigmatic occult writings cryptic implies a purposely concealed meaning. cryptic hints of hidden treasure ambiguous applies to language capable of more than one interpretation. an ambiguous directive equivocal applies to language left open to differing interpretations with the intention of deceiving or evading. moral precepts with equivocal phrasing

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web Nintendo’s slate of upcoming titles is still a bit vague, but more details should be unveiled in the coming months. Chris Morris, Fortune, "Nintendo Switch is selling faster than Wii or Sony PlayStation 4 ever sold," 6 May 2021 The government’s language around vaccinations has been cleverly vague thus far, with some communiques indicating an intention to distribute 300 million doses by August. Ananya Bhattacharya, Quartz, "India’s Covid-19 vaccination program is alarmingly behind schedule," 5 May 2021 The president’s promise was vague enough that the White House counted schools opening part time as being open. Los Angeles Times, "Biden’s promises for his first 100 days: Kept, broken and incomplete," 28 Apr. 2021 Employers can be vague in benefit time-off accruals. Expert Panel®, Forbes, "15 Common Employee Handbook Mistakes To Avoid," 27 Apr. 2021 Lawmakers and aides have already begun trying to turn the proposal, which is dauntingly vague in crucial areas, into legislative text. Anchorage Daily News, "On infrastructure, lofty ideas are colliding with congressional reality," 18 Apr. 2021 The triple bottom line has created expectations of executives that aren’t only vague, hard to meet and outside their expertise, but also sometimes incompatible with profitability. WSJ, "Is There Virtue in CEOs’ Signaling?," 13 Apr. 2021 The characterizations are vague enough for the movie to be interpreted as an allegory, possibly about toxic masculinity or fascism or, given how beautiful and fit everyone is, body shaming. Chris Hewitt, Star Tribune, "Intergalactic drama 'Voyagers' squeezes the joy out of space travel," 8 Apr. 2021 Rice said the email was intentionally vague as to not draw attention to it. Brayden Garcia, Dallas News, "Richardson parents clash over LGBTQ books in school libraries," 7 Apr. 2021

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.

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First Known Use of vague

circa 1661, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for 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 wink entry 1

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Time Traveler for vague

Time Traveler

The first known use of vague was circa 1661

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Last Updated

11 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Vague.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/vague. Accessed 11 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for vague

vague

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of vague

: 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

adjective
\ ˈvāg How to pronounce vague (audio) \
vaguer; vaguest

Kids Definition of vague

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

Other Words from vague

vaguely adverb
vagueness noun

vague

adjective
\ ˈvāg How to pronounce vague (audio) \

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

Other Words from vague

vaguely adverb
vagueness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on vague

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for vague

Nglish: Translation of vague for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of vague for Arabic Speakers

Comments on vague

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