Definition of indeterminate in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˌindəˈtərmənət/


1Not exactly known, established, or defined: the date of manufacture is indeterminate
More example sentences
  • Luminous veils of white and yellow arise at the centers of her paintings, evoking indeterminate distance and establishing a mood of poetic reverie.
  • Unfortunately, the imported Italian color has faded to an indeterminate yellow.
  • ‘Well, at least this bit is as it should be,’ Graham said, pointing with a half-eaten croissant at a sour-faced lady of indeterminate years, stomping along the pavement.
undetermined, uncertain, unknown, unspecified, unstipulated, indefinite, unfixed
amorphous, shapeless, formless;
1.1(Of a judicial sentence) such that the convicted person’s conduct determines the date of release.
Example sentences
  • Overall, the Court's conclusions are expressed in terms that indicate no objection under article 3 to a mandatory indeterminate sentence for murder.
  • This is not a review of the position, for example, following an indeterminate sentence which may be imposed at the time of conviction.
  • This indeterminate sentence requires considerations of rehabilitation.
1.2 Mathematics (Of a quantity) having no definite or definable value.
Example sentences
  • He then continued his studies at the Faculty of Physics and Mathematics investigating an indeterminate equation of degree three.
  • Firstly Abu Kamil is the first Arabic mathematician who we know solved indeterminate problems of the type found in Diophantus's work.
  • Samples were interpreted as indeterminate if the OD values were in the range 0.3-0.5 units.
1.3 Medicine (Of a condition) from which a diagnosis of the underlying cause cannot be made: indeterminate colitis
More example sentences
  • Many centres, however, suggest surgical excision of all indeterminate follicular lesions to make a definitive histological diagnosis.
  • Extrapolating our findings to this high risk population indicates that screening would identify more than 180 million uncalcified, radiologically indeterminate nodules.
  • These can be used to resolve the infection status of individuals with indeterminate serological results.
1.4 Botany (Of a plant shoot) not having all the axes terminating in a flower bud and so producing a shoot of indefinite length.
Example sentences
  • Leaves in vascular plants are produced by determinate growth on the flanks of indeterminate shoot apical meristems.
  • This model is characterized by a single monopodial trunk and plagiotropic, indeterminate branches.
  • The propagules of these predominantly arctic/alpine grasses consist of indeterminate spikelets, which revert to vegetative growth before dehiscing from the parent plant.



Pronunciation: /ˌindəˈtərmənəsē/
Example sentences
  • They represent past events that can be superimposed over present events to produce duration and enhance indeterminacy for individuals as social beings.
  • Where are the jazz musicians prepared to embrace this ‘double consciousness’ of jazz, to revel in its indeterminacy, yet commit to its particular rigour?
  • I appreciated anew that the road to hell is paved, if not necessarily with good intentions, then with indeterminacy, caution, uncertainty and fear.


Pronunciation: /ˌindəˈtərmənətlē/
Example sentences
  • The distorted fragments often appear androgynous, but even when gender is evident, it becomes clear that the video treats male and female bodies indeterminately.
  • The unlined, irregularly shaped, indeterminately sized chambers suggest that the new trace was the domicile for an arthropod, perhaps an amphipod-like or an isopod-like crustacean.
  • The consequence of this legislation is that people who may well not commit a further crime can be detained indeterminately, in effect, for the rest of their lives.


Pronunciation: /ˌindəˈtərmənətnəs/
Example sentences
  • Its grandeur fabricates a challenge to the indeterminateness of fate, even more so its finality, by preserving love and hope as viable antidotes to inevitable ends.
  • Pure being, he says, is pure indeterminateness and vacuity.
  • Uncertainty and indeterminateness are main properties of natural language.


Early 17th century: from late Latin indeterminatus, from in- 'not' + Latin determinatus 'limited, determined' (see determinate).

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.