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[neb-yuh-luh s]
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  1. hazy, vague, indistinct, or confused: a nebulous recollection of the meeting; a nebulous distinction between pride and conceit.
  2. cloudy or cloudlike.
  3. of or resembling a nebula or nebulae in deep space; nebular.
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Origin of nebulous

1375–1425; late Middle English < Latin nebulōsus full of mist, foggy, cloudy. See nebula, -ous
Related formsneb·u·lous·ly, adverbneb·u·lous·ness, nounnon·neb·u·lous, adjectivenon·neb·u·lous·ly, adverbnon·neb·u·lous·ness, nounqua·si-neb·u·lous, adjectivequa·si-neb·u·lous·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for nebulous


  1. lacking definite form, shape, or content; vague or amorphousnebulous reasons
  2. of, characteristic of, or resembling a nebula
  3. rare misty or hazy
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Derived Formsnebulously, adverbnebulousness, 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 nebulous


late 14c., "cloudy, misty," from Latin nebulosus "cloudy, misty, foggy, full of vapor," from nebula (see nebula). The figurative sense of "hazy, vague, formless" is first attested 1831. Astronomical sense is from 1670s. Related: Nebulously; nebulousness.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper