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

fuzzy, indefinite, inexplicit, muzzy, unclear

Antonyms

clear, definite, explicit, specific

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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

Even if the Second Amendment were involved, said the circuit panel, the ban could be upheld based solely on a vague and unsubstantiated affidavit from a police official who speculated (with no evidence) about road-rage shootings. David B. Kopel, National Review, "Heller’s Precarious Situation," 12 Sep. 2019 However, Recht, the attorney representing Alexander Neir, said the affidavits were vague and ambiguous. Saja Hindi, The Denver Post, "Some Denver short-term rental owners are giving up their licenses, rather than risk criminal charges," 4 Sep. 2019 Tim Cook, in a CNBC interview, said that Apple wasn’t a monopoly and objected to being lumped in with Google and Facebook; other critics suggested that the Warren plan was too vague and would be difficult to implement. Sheelah Kolhatkar, The New Yorker, "How Elizabeth Warren Came Up with a Plan to Break Up Big Tech," 20 Aug. 2019 US District Court Judge Marsha Pechman initially ruled in late 2017 in the coffee chain's favor, saying the city ordinances were too vague and arbitrary, according to CNN affiliate KOMO. Ralph Ellis, Marlena Baldacci And Chris Boyette, CNN, "Federal appeals court rules against 'bikini baristas'," 5 July 2019 But regulations designed to keep residents safe remain vague and outdated, according to a Plain Dealer analysis of hundreds of pages of regulations, safety reports and interviews with researchers. John Caniglia, cleveland.com, "Rape of 95-year-old with dementia raises questions about Ohio’s assisted-living regulations for staffing, training," 23 June 2019 Numerous courts, including the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, have found the laws so vague as to be unconstitutional. Fox News, "Cosby to fight 'sexually violent predator' tag at sentencing," 22 Sep. 2018 Throughout the debate, Ahmari was notably vague on what rules and policies might plausibly reestablish moral order in America to his liking. Osita Nwanevu, The New Republic, "The Right Wing’s Cultural Civil War Is a Drag," 9 Sep. 2019 But the central characters were underdeveloped, particularly Jonathan Groff’s Holden Ford, who was frustratingly vague for a leading man. Matthew Gilbert, BostonGlobe.com, "This week on TV: When shows improve, Kelly Clarkson chats, and Dems look for viral moments," 8 Sep. 2019

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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Dictionary Entries near vague

vagrant

vagrom

vags

vague

vaguely

vague year

vaguish

Statistics for vague

Last Updated

16 Oct 2019

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Time Traveler for vague

The first known use of vague was circa 1661

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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

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More from Merriam-Webster on vague

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with vague

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for vague

Spanish Central: Translation of vague

Nglish: Translation of vague for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of vague for Arabic Speakers

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