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[am-biv-uh-luh ns] /æmˈbɪv ə ləns/
uncertainty or fluctuation, especially when caused by inability to make a choice or by a simultaneous desire to say or do two opposite or conflicting things.
Psychology. the coexistence within an individual of positive and negative feelings toward the same person, object, or action, simultaneously drawing him or her in opposite directions.
Also, ambivalency.
Origin of ambivalence
First recorded in 1910-15; ambi- + valence
Related forms
ambivalent, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for ambivalence
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • But now also the psychological fatality of ambivalence demands its rights.

    Totem and Taboo Sigmund Freud
  • With the decline of this ambivalence the taboo, as the compromise symptom of the ambivalent conflict, also slowly disappeared.

    Totem and Taboo Sigmund Freud
British Dictionary definitions for ambivalence


the simultaneous existence of two opposed and conflicting attitudes, emotions, etc
Derived Forms
ambivalent, adjective
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 ambivalence

"simultaneous conflicting feelings," 1924 (1912 as ambivalency), from German Ambivalenz, coined 1910 by Swiss psychologist Eugen Bleuler (1857-1939) on model of German Equivalenz "equivalence," etc., from Latin ambi- "both" (see ambi-) + valentia "strength," from present participle of valere "be strong" (see valiant). A psychological term that by 1929 had taken on a broader literary and general sense.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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ambivalence in Medicine

ambivalence am·biv·a·lence (ām-bĭv'ə-ləns)
The coexistence of opposing attitudes or feelings toward a person, an object, or an idea.

am·biv'a·lent adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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