Dictionary.com

ambiguous

[ am-big-yoo-uhs ]
/ æmˈbɪg yu əs /
Save This Word!
See synonyms for: ambiguous / ambiguously / ambiguousness on Thesaurus.com

adjective
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.
QUIZ
WILL YOU SAIL OR STUMBLE ON THESE GRAMMAR QUESTIONS?
Smoothly step over to these common grammar mistakes that trip many people up. Good luck!
Question 1 of 7
Fill in the blank: I can’t figure out _____ gave me this gift.

Origin of ambiguous

First recorded in 1480–1500; from Latin ambiguus, equivalent to ambig(ere) “to dispute, contend; be undecided, doubt” (from ambi- prefix meaning “both, around” + -igere combining form of agere “to drive, lead, act”) +-uus adjective suffix; see origin at ambi-; see -ous

synonym study for ambiguous

1. ambiguous, equivocal, cryptic, enigmatic describe conditions or statements not clear in meaning. ambiguous can refer to a statement, act, or attitude that is capable of two or more often contradictory interpretations, usually accidentally or unintentionally so: an ambiguous passage in the preamble. equivocal, usually applied to spoken as well as written language, also means susceptible of two or more interpretations, and it usually suggests a deliberate intent to mislead by avoiding clarity: saving face with an equivocal response to an embarrassing question. cryptic usually refers to intentional obscurity, especially in language, and often implies a private or hidden meaning but stresses resultant mystification or puzzlement: a cryptic remark that left us struggling to interpret his intention. enigmatic focuses on perplexity resulting from a mysterious or imponderable event or utterance, often one of great importance or deep significance: prophetic texts so enigmatic that their meaning has been disputed for centuries.

OTHER WORDS FROM ambiguous

am·big·u·ous·ly, adverbam·big·u·ous·ness, nounun·am·big·u·ous, adjective

WORDS THAT MAY BE CONFUSED WITH ambiguous

ambiguous , ambivalent
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022

How to use ambiguous in a sentence

  • A nameless ecstacy thrilled through my frame when any new proof occurred that the ambiguousness of my behaviour was the cause.

    Wieland; or The Transformation|Charles Brockden Brown
  • I have tried to render approximately the ambiguousness of the original.

    The Gtakaml|rya Sra
  • Let the ambiguous procession of events reveal their own ambiguousness.

  • Of course he would see to it that not a shadow of ambiguousness was allowed to rest on such a name.

    Christopher and Columbus|Countess Elizabeth Von Arnim

British Dictionary definitions for ambiguous

ambiguous
/ (æmˈbɪɡjʊəs) /

adjective
having more than one possible interpretation or meaning
difficult to understand or classify; obscure

Derived forms of ambiguous

ambiguously, adverbambiguousness, noun

Word Origin for ambiguous

C16: from Latin ambiguus going here and there, uncertain, from ambigere to go around, from ambi- + agere to lead, act
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
FEEDBACK