[ am-bish-uhn ]
See synonyms for: ambitionambitions on

  1. 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.

  2. the object, state, or result desired or sought after: The crown was his ambition.

  1. desire for work or activity; energy: I awoke feeling tired and utterly lacking in ambition.

verb (used with object)
  1. to seek after earnestly; aspire to.

Origin of ambition

First recorded in 1300–50; Middle English ambicio(u)n, from Middle French or directly from Latin ambitiōn- (stem of ambitiō ), equivalent to amb- ambi- + -i- “go” + -t- past participle suffix + -iōn- -ion

Other words for ambition

Other words from ambition

  • am·bi·tion·less, adjective
  • am·bi·tion·less·ly, adverb
  • pre·am·bi·tion, noun
  • su·per·am·bi·tion, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use ambition in a sentence

  • It was not an exalted niche to fill in life, but at least she had learned to fill it to perfection, and her ambitions were modest.

    Ancestors | Gertrude Atherton
  • Even at his age he had ambitions, and expected that sometime he would, like his father, serve the king in some office.

    Our Little Korean Cousin | H. Lee M. Pike
  • The social ambitions of the Tippetts were so definitely quenched that the indignant millionaire threatened to return to Chicago.

    Ancestors | Gertrude Atherton
  • When it ceased, she felt as if she had been carried away from "London," and from those old ambitions and hopes for ever.

    Bella Donna | Robert Hichens
  • He had no hopes of winning her to wife—haply no desire, since he was not a man of very great ambitions.

    St. Martin's Summer | Rafael Sabatini

British Dictionary definitions for ambition


/ (æmˈbɪʃən) /

  1. strong desire for success, achievement, or distinction

  2. something so desired; goal; aim

Origin of ambition

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