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See more synonyms for indeterminate on Thesaurus.com
  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.
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  1. 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
Related formsin·de·ter·mi·nate·ly, adverbin·de·ter·mi·nate·ness, noun


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for indeterminately

Historical Examples

  • Versicolored: with several colors, indeterminately restricted.

    Explanation of Terms Used in Entomology

    John. B. Smith

  • This word, so far as it relates to flowers, means those variegated with three or more colours irregularly and indeterminately.

  • The hair was indeterminately reddish and gray and his eyes were the color of steel.

    The Incendiary

    W. A. (William Augustine) Leahy

  • When he touched her wing, she gasped and shivered, indeterminately between erotic and outraged.

  • Rather, the smell of the place urges me indeterminately, diffusedly, to truantry.

    Journeys to Bagdad

    Charles S. Brooks

British Dictionary definitions for indeterminately


  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
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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 indeterminately



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

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

indeterminately 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.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.