am·​biv·​a·​lence | \ am-ˈbi-və-lən(t)s How to pronounce ambivalence (audio) \

Definition of ambivalence

1 : simultaneous and contradictory attitudes or feelings (such as attraction and repulsion) toward an object, person, or action felt ambivalence toward his powerful father ambivalence toward marriage
2a : continual fluctuation (as between one thing and its opposite)
b : uncertainty as to which approach to follow ambivalence about their goals

Examples of ambivalence in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Here’s how The Times described the Hollywood-script-ready plot: Over the last month, Greenblatt had discussed his ambivalence about working at a large agency with ICM President Jim Wiatt. Ryan Faughnder, Los Angeles Times, 28 Sep. 2021 These junctures, full of the anticipation and terror of becoming a person, are notable for their ambivalence. Katy Waldman, The New Yorker, 3 May 2021 His paternal grandfather had been a police officer in London, a fact that Mr. Holliday would cite in explaining his ambivalence over what his video had wrought. New York Times, 22 Sep. 2021 And when Dickie steals some giant stereo speakers for him, Tony’s ambivalence about taking them speaks louder than the speakers. Owen Gleiberman, Variety, 21 Sep. 2021 Wrestling with two opposite feelings at once is called ambivalence. Washington Post, 4 Aug. 2021 Its ambivalence toward the Democratic Party was present in the Bernie Sanders campaigns of 2016 and 2020, and in various left efforts to unseat long-standing centrists in primaries. Kim Phillips-fein, The New Republic, 2 Aug. 2021 The impending invasion of Iraq, which the U.S. launched the week after the taking of this photo, was on everyone’s mind, and Hollywood’s ambivalence about even having an Oscar ceremony that year was a major topic at the luncheon. Zach Schonfeld, Vulture, 23 Apr. 2021 There seems to be a lot of emotional ambivalence, too. John Norris, Billboard, 16 Sep. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ambivalence.' 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 ambivalence

1909, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for ambivalence

borrowed from German Ambivalenz, from ambi- ambi- + -valenz, in Äquivalenz equivalence

Note: See note at ambivalent.

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The first known use of ambivalence was in 1909

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Last Updated

23 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Ambivalence.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for ambivalence


am·​biv·​a·​lence | \ am-ˈbiv-ə-lən(t)s How to pronounce ambivalence (audio) \

Medical Definition of ambivalence

: simultaneous and contradictory attitudes or feelings (as attraction and repulsion) toward an object, person, or action ambivalence which is expressed in behavior by alternating obedience and rebellion— G. S. Blum

Other Words from ambivalence

ambivalent \ -​lənt How to pronounce ambivalence (audio) \ adjective
ambivalently adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on ambivalence

Nglish: Translation of ambivalence for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ambivalence for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about ambivalence


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