Definition of ambiguous in English:

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Pronunciation: /amˈbɪɡjʊəs/


1Open to more than one interpretation; not having one obvious meaning: ambiguous phrases
More example sentences
  • The Constitution is an ambiguous document open to interpretation by all.
  • They considered the Act to be ambiguous and open to interpretation on this point.
  • Once more, the evidence is ambiguous and interpretations have become polarized.
1.1Not clear or decided: the election result was ambiguous
More example sentences
  • Whether their other plans are ambiguous or meaningless is unclear.
  • This ambiguous attitude makes his art cryptic: viewers are left grasping at answers.
  • Is it any wonder that his ambiguous hybrid art dissolves boundaries in such an equivocal manner?
equivocal, ambivalent, open to debate, open to argument, arguable, debatable;
obscure, unclear, vague, abstruse, puzzling, perplexing, riddling, doubtful, dubious, uncertain;
double-edged, backhanded



Pronunciation: /amˈbɪɡjʊəsnəs/
Example sentences
  • Nowadays, directors overuse music, lighting, and camera angles to destroy any ambiguousness in characters.
  • Fans of the first film will agree that the sheer ambiguousness and enigmatic status of the film's villain was the main ingredient that catapulted the original into cult status.
  • He carries off the ambiguousness of Prot's character with understated precision.


Early 16th century (in the sense 'indistinct, obscure'): from Latin ambiguus 'doubtful' (from ambigere 'waver, go around', from ambi- 'both ways' + agere 'to drive') + -ous.

  • actor from Late Middle English:

    An actor was originally simply ‘a doer’, usually an agent or an administrator; the theatrical sense dates from the 16th century. Like act (Late Middle English) it comes from Latin actus ‘thing done’, which comes from agere ‘to do, drive’. This is the basis of other English words such as agenda (early 17th century) ‘things to be done’; agent (Late Middle English) ‘someone or thing who does things’; agile (Late Middle English) ‘able to do things’; agitate (Late Middle English) originally meaning ‘drive away’; ambiguous (early 16th century) ‘drive in both ways’, a word, which appears to have been coined by the English scholar and statesman Sir Thomas More (1478–1535), originally in the sense ‘indistinct, obscure’; transaction (Late Middle English) ‘something driven across or through’ and many more. Actuality (Late Middle English) originally had the sense ‘activity’; from Old French actualite from actualis ‘active, practical’. The modern French word actualité (usually meaning ‘news’) is sometimes used in English to mean ‘truth’, a sense not found in French as in: ‘When asked why the company had not been advised to include the potential military use, he [Alan Clark] said it was our old friend economical…with the actualité’ (Independent 10 November 1992).

Words that rhyme with ambiguous

contiguous, exiguous

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: am¦bigu|ous

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