[ in-di-tur-muh-nit ]
/ ˌɪn dɪˈtɜr mə nɪt /
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See synonyms for: indeterminate / indeterminately / indeterminateness on Thesaurus.com

Mathematics. something whose value is not specified: used especially in abstract algebra; a variable.
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Origin of indeterminate

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English word from Late Latin word indēterminātus.See in-3, determinate

OTHER WORDS FROM indeterminate

in·de·ter·mi·nate·ly, adverbin·de·ter·mi·nate·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does indeterminate mean?

Indeterminate describes something that is not precisely fixed or is uncertain, as in Sonya felt really frustrated with her boss’s indeterminate standards for evaluating her work.

Indeterminate also describes something that is vague or unclear, as in The indeterminate costs for replacing the school led voters to choose repairing the school instead.

Indeterminate is also used to describe something not established or settled, as in After surgery, Nikki will have to spend an indeterminate amount of time resting and healing.

Example: Carly’s lab results were indeterminate so the doctor wants to do more tests.

Where does indeterminate come from?

The first records of the term indeterminate come from around the 1300s. It comes from the Late Latin term indēterminātus.

In botany, indeterminate means “having some type of appendage that does not grow a flower or bud on the end.” This allows the plant to instead grow longer. Often, indeterminate stems or growths are pruned to channel more of the plant’s energy into developing flowers or fruit.

In mathematics, an indeterminate is something that has no specified value. It is typically used as a variable in algebra and is often represented as an unsolvable problem, such as a number divided by zero or the square root of a negative number. Indeterminate variables are often represented with letters or symbols.

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What are some other forms related to indeterminate?

  • indeterminately (adverb)
  • indeterminateness (noun)
  • indeterminacy (noun)

What are some synonyms for indeterminate?

What are some words that share a root or word element with indeterminate?

What are some words that often get used in discussing indeterminate?

How is indeterminate used in real life?

Indeterminate is most often used in scientific or formal discussions.


Try using indeterminate!

Which of the following is NOT a synonym for indeterminate?

A. imprecise
B. unknown
C. defined
D. nebulous

How to use indeterminate in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for indeterminate

/ (ˌɪndɪˈtɜːmɪnɪt) /


Derived forms of indeterminate

indeterminacy, indetermination or indeterminateness, nounindeterminately, adverb
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

Scientific definitions for indeterminate

[ ĭn′dĭ-tûrmə-nĭt ]

Continuing to grow at the apical meristem or the terminal bud indefinitely, allowing for the development of an ever-increasing number of plant organs such as leaves, stems, or flowers to the side.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.