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[am-bish-uh n] /æmˈbɪʃ ən/
an earnest desire for some type of achievement or distinction, as power, honor, fame, or wealth, and the willingness to strive for its attainment:
Too much ambition caused him to be disliked by his colleagues.
the object, state, or result desired or sought after:
The crown was his ambition.
desire for work or activity; energy:
I awoke feeling tired and utterly lacking in ambition.
verb (used with object)
to seek after earnestly; aspire to.
Origin of ambition
1300-50; Middle English ambicio(u)n (< Middle French) < Latin ambitiōn- (stem of ambitiō), equivalent to amb- ambi- + -i- go + -t- past participle suffix + -iōn- -ion
Related forms
ambitionless, adjective
ambitionlessly, adverb
preambition, noun
superambition, noun
1. aspiration, yearning, longing. 2. goal, aim. 3. drive, force. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for ambitionless
Historical Examples
  • Lazy and ambitionless, they are incapable of uniting their tribal forces.

    The Little Lady of Lagunitas Richard Henry Savage
  • A wonderful waking dream of joy overflooding years of ambitionless ease; of the Damory Court that should be in days to come.

    The Valiants of Virginia Hallie Erminie Rives
  • Could this vapid and ambitionless assembly produce real men?

    The Barrier

    Allen French
  • The shepherd's life in the far West is as uninteresting, ambitionless, and lonely an existence as falls to the lot of man.

    Cattle-Ranch to College Russell Doubleday
  • Years in the factory had made them dead, listless, soulless and ambitionless creatures.

    The Bishop of Cottontown John Trotwood Moore
  • Mischief is sure to crop up, in one form or another, among the idle and ambitionless.

  • When I came, Los Angeles was a sleepy, ambitionless adobe village with very little promise for the future.

  • Her marriage to this easy-going, ambitionless, though generous prince had been a failure.

  • For a Hindu to rise from his inherited caste is next to impossible, and this tends to make the Hindus an ambitionless race.

    East of Suez Frederic Courtland Penfield
British Dictionary definitions for ambitionless


strong desire for success, achievement, or distinction
something so desired; goal; aim
Word Origin
C14: from Old French, from Latin ambitiō a going round (of candidates), a striving to please, from ambīre to go round; see ambit
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for ambitionless



mid-14c., from Middle French ambition or directly from Latin ambitionem (nominative ambitio) "a going around," especially to solicit votes, hence "a striving for favor, courting, flattery; a desire for honor, thirst for popularity," noun of action from past participle stem of ambire "to go around" (see ambient).

Rarely used in the literal sense in English, where it carries the secondary Latin sense of "eager or inordinate desire of honor or preferment." In early use always pejorative, of inordinate or overreaching desire; ambition was grouped with pride and vainglory.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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