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 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>
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.
Origin and Etymology of vague
borrowed from French, going back to Medieval 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: 1548
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
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