- open to or having several possible meanings or interpretations; equivocal: an ambiguous answer.
- Linguistics. (of an expression) exhibiting constructional homonymity; having two or more structural descriptions, as the sequence Flying planes can be dangerous.
- of doubtful or uncertain nature; difficult to comprehend, distinguish, or classify: a rock of ambiguous character.
- lacking clearness or definiteness; obscure; indistinct: an ambiguous shape; an ambiguous future.
Origin of ambiguous
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for ambiguous
We can only speculate as to the intentions behind these ambiguous words.Is Pope Francis Backpedaling on Gays?
November 19, 2014
The writer has followed a rule but compromised clarity; whether the vote or the approval was immediate is ambiguous.Go Ahead, End With a Preposition: Grammar Rules We All Can Live With
November 3, 2014
“The subject area in question is subjective and ambiguous,” he wrote.Fired From Los Alamos for Pushing Obama's Nuclear Agenda
Center for Public Integrity
July 31, 2014
In a sense, the ambiguous nature of their relationship—is it sexual or not?Cara Delevingne, Ireland Baldwin, and How Sexually Uninhibited Models Are Bucking the Male Gaze
July 2, 2014
I really looked at it very carefully, and my feeling is that it has to be ambiguous.How ‘Transcendence’ Director Wally Pfister Became Christopher Nolan’s Secret Weapon
April 17, 2014
“Possibly,” said he, with an ambiguous half smile, which I did not understand.The First Violin
Such are the modes in which propositions and terms may be ambiguous.'Euthydemus
His ambiguous, loose talk, only perplexed and alarmed her; the explanation was none at all.The Strollers
Frederic S. Isham
A cold, ambiguous smile was the only reply he received to this speech.The Fortunes Of Glencore
Charles James Lever
There is cited the case of a negro arrested on an ambiguous charge.Negro Migration during the War
Emmett J. Scott
- having more than one possible interpretation or meaning
- difficult to understand or classify; obscure
Word Origin and History for ambiguous
1520s, from Latin ambiguus "having double meaning, shifting, changeable, doubtful," adjective derived from ambigere "to dispute about," literally "to wander," from ambi- "about" (see ambi-) + agere "drive, lead, act" (see act). Sir Thomas More (1528) seems to have first used it in English, but ambiguity dates back to c.1400. Related: Ambiguously; ambiguousness.