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[am-biv-uh-luh nt] /æmˈbɪv ə lənt/
having mixed feelings about someone or something; being unable to choose between two (usually opposing) courses of action: The whole family was ambivalent about the move to the suburbs.
She is regarded as a morally ambivalent character in the play.
Psychology. of or relating to 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.
Origin of ambivalent
back formation from ambivalence
Related forms
ambivalently, adverb
Can be confused
ambiguous, ambivalent. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for ambivalent
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Let us recall that in our earlier discussion we took note of the ambivalent character of love.

    Herein is Love

    Reuel L. Howe
  • Thus we find again that taboo has grown out of the soil of an ambivalent emotional attitude.

    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
  • Let us suppose the subject has ambivalent feelings toward his father.

Word Origin and History for ambivalent

1916, originally a term in psychology; back-formation from ambivalence. In general use by 1929.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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