adjective am·big·u·ous \am-ˈbi-gyə-wəs\

: able to be understood in more than one way : having more than one possible meaning

: not expressed or understood clearly

Full Definition of AMBIGUOUS

a :  doubtful or uncertain especially from obscurity or indistinctness <eyes of an ambiguous color>
b :  inexplicable
:  capable of being understood in two or more possible senses or ways <an ambiguous smile> <an ambiguous term> <a deliberately ambiguous reply>
am·big·u·ous·ly adverb
am·big·u·ous·ness noun

Examples of AMBIGUOUS

  1. Greater familiarity with this artist makes one's assessment of him more tentative rather than less. His best pictures exude a hypersensitive, ambiguous aura of grace. —Peter Schjeldahl, New Yorker, 10 Mar. 2003


Latin ambiguus, from ambigere to be undecided, from ambi- + agere to drive — more at agent
First Known Use: 1528

Synonym Discussion of AMBIGUOUS

obscure, dark, vague, enigmatic, cryptic, ambiguous, equivocal mean not clearly understandable. obscure implies a hiding or veiling of meaning through some inadequacy of expression or withholding of full knowledge <obscure poems>. dark implies an imperfect or clouded revelation often with ominous or sinister suggestion <muttered dark hints of revenge>. vague implies a lack of clear formulation due to inadequate conception or consideration <a vague sense of obligation>. enigmatic stresses a puzzling, mystifying quality <enigmatic occult writings>. cryptic implies a purposely concealed meaning <cryptic hints of hidden treasure>. ambiguous applies to language capable of more than one interpretation <an ambiguous directive>. equivocal applies to language left open to differing interpretations with the intention of deceiving or evading <moral precepts with equivocal phrasing>.

Rhymes with AMBIGUOUS

AMBIGUOUS Defined for Kids


adjective am·big·u·ous \am-ˈbi-gyə-wəs\

Definition of AMBIGUOUS for Kids

:  able to be understood in more than one way <an ambiguous explanation>
am·big·u·ous·ly adverb <answered ambiguously>


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