See more synonyms for indeterminate on
  1. not determinate; not precisely fixed in extent; indefinite; uncertain.
  2. not clear; vague.
  3. not established.
  4. not settled or decided.
  5. Mathematics.
    1. (of a quantity) undefined, as 0/0.
    2. (of an equation) able to be satisfied by more than one value for each unknown.
  6. Botany. (of an inflorescence) having the axis or axes not ending in a flower or bud, thus allowing further elongation.
  1. Mathematics. something whose value is not specified: used especially in abstract algebra; a variable.

Origin of indeterminate

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English word from Late Latin word indēterminātus. See in-3, determinate
Related formsin·de·ter·mi·nate·ly, adverbin·de·ter·mi·nate·ness, noun

Synonyms for indeterminate

See more synonyms for on Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for indeterminate

Contemporary Examples of indeterminate

Historical Examples of indeterminate

  • She herself was in a curious, indeterminate attitude as far as concerned the law.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • After an indeterminate interval, he was awakened by someone entering the room.

  • The station, like the scenery, like Helen's letters, struck an indeterminate note.

    Howards End

    E. M. Forster

  • He was lithe, of indeterminate age, but with a look of great determination.

    Suite Mentale

    Gordon Randall Garrett

  • I poised for an indeterminate instant, and then I took my orbit.

    Wandl the Invader

    Raymond King Cummings

British Dictionary definitions for indeterminate


  1. uncertain in extent, amount, or nature
  2. not definite; inconclusivean indeterminate reply
  3. unable to be predicted, calculated, or deduced
  4. physics (of an effect) not obeying the law of causality; noncausal
  5. maths
    1. having no numerical meaning, as 0.00 or 0/0
    2. (of an equation) having more than one variable and an unlimited number of solutions
  6. botany another word for indefinite (def. 4)
  7. (of a structure, framework, etc) comprising forces that cannot be fully analysed, esp by vector analysis
Derived Formsindeterminacy, 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

Word Origin and History for indeterminate

late 14c., from Late Latin indeterminatus "undefined," from in- "not, opposite of" (see in- (1)) + determinatus, past participle of determinare (see determine). Related: Indeterminately.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

indeterminate in Science


  1. 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.