having ambition; eagerly desirous of achieving or obtaining success, power, wealth, a specific goal, etc.: ambitious students.
showing or caused by ambition or an earnest desire for achievement or distinction: an ambitious attempt to break the record for number of wins in a single season.
strongly desirous; eager: ambitious of love and approval.
requiring exceptional effort, ability, etc.: The candidate is proposing an ambitious program for eliminating all slums.

Origin of ambitious

1350–1400; Middle English < Latin ambitiōsus, equivalent to ambiti(ō) ambition + -ōsus -ous
Related formsam·bi·tious·ly, adverbam·bi·tious·ness, nounnon·am·bi·tious, adjectivenon·am·bi·tious·ly, adverbnon·am·bi·tious·ness, nouno·ver·am·bi·tious, adjectiveo·ver·am·bi·tious·ly, adverbo·ver·am·bi·tious·ness, nounun·am·bi·tious, adjectiveun·am·bi·tious·ly, adverbun·am·bi·tious·ness, noun

Synonym study

1. Ambitious, aspiring, enterprising describe a person who wishes to rise above his or her present position or condition. The ambitious person wishes to attain worldly success, and puts forth effort toward this end: ambitious for social position. The enterprising person, interested especially in wealth, is characterized by energy and daring in undertaking projects. The aspiring person wishes to rise (mentally or spiritually) to a higher level or plane, or to attain some end above ordinary expectations.

Antonyms for ambitious Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for ambitious

Contemporary Examples of ambitious

Historical Examples of ambitious

  • He had not come back to woo, but as the old friend, ambitious of helpfulness.

  • Ferdinand is the most ambitious man in Europe, false also if it serves his purpose.

    Fair Margaret

    H. Rider Haggard

  • A few thousands a year is my most ambitious figure for a wife.

    It Happened in Egypt

    C. N. Williamson

  • The waiting, the loneliness and the suspense were terrible to one so young, and so ambitious.

    The Rock of Chickamauga

    Joseph A. Altsheler

  • Vargrave, I am ambitious, worldly: I own it; but I could give up all for you!

British Dictionary definitions for ambitious



having a strong desire for success or achievement; wanting power, money, etc
necessitating extraordinary effort or abilityan ambitious project
(often foll by of) having a great desire (for something or to do something)
Derived Formsambitiously, adverbambitiousness, noun
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

Word Origin and History for ambitious

late 14c., from Latin ambitiosus "going around to canvass for office," from ambitio (see ambition). Related: Ambitiously.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper