Ambiguous and Ambiguity Definition and Meaning: What Does Ambiguous Mean?

Ambiguity Definition

am·bi·gu·i·ty  (mb-gy-t)

n. pl. am·bi·gu·i·ties

1. Doubtfulness or uncertainty as regards interpretation: "leading a life of alleged moral ambiguity" (Anatole Broyard).

2. Something of doubtful meaning: a poem full of ambiguities.

ambiguity [ˌæmbɪˈgjuːɪtɪ]

n pl -ties

1. the possibility of interpreting an expression in two or more distinct ways

2. an instance of this, as in the sentence they are cooking apples

3. vagueness or uncertainty of meaning there are several ambiguities in the situation

am•bi•gu•i•ty (ˌæm bɪˈgyu ɪ ti)
n., pl. -ties.

1. doubtfulness or uncertainty of meaning or intention: to speak with ambiguity.

2. the condition of admitting more than one meaning.

3. an ambiguous word, expression, etc.: a contract free of ambiguities.

[1375–1425; < Latin]

Noun1.ambiguity - an expression whose meaning cannot be determined from its context

loophole - an ambiguity (especially one in the text of a law or contract) that makes it possible to evade a difficulty or obligation

amphibology, amphiboly - an ambiguous grammatical construction; e.g., `they are flying planes' can mean either that someone is flying planes or that something is flying planes

parisology - the use of ambiguous words

double entendre - an ambiguity with one interpretation that is indelicate

locution, saying, expression - a word or phrase that particular people use in particular situations; "pardon the expression"

2.ambiguity - unclearness by virtue of having more than one meaning


unclearness - incomprehensibility as a result of not being clear

evasiveness, prevarication, equivocation - intentionally vague or ambiguous

lexical ambiguity, polysemy - the ambiguity of an individual word or phrase that can be used (in different contexts) to express two or more different meanings

twilight zone, no man's land - the ambiguous region between two categories or states or conditions (usually containing some features of both); "but there is still a twilight zone, the tantalizing occurrences that are probably noise but might possibly be a signal"; "in the twilight zone between humor and vulgarity"; "in that no man's land between negotiation and aggression"

unambiguity, unequivocalness - clarity achieved by the avoidance of ambiguity


noun vagueness, doubt, puzzle, uncertainty, obscurity, enigma, equivocation, inconclusiveness, indefiniteness, dubiety, dubiousness, tergiversation, indeterminateness, equivocality, doubtfulness, equivocacy the ambiguities of language



noun, plural am·bi·gu·i·ties.


doubtfulness or uncertainty of meaning or intention: to speak with ambiguity; an ambiguity of manner.


an unclear, indefinite, or equivocal word, expression, meaning, etc.: a contract free of ambiguities; the ambiguities of modern poetry.

1375–1425; late Middle English ambiguite  < Latin ambiguitās,  equivalent to ambigu ( us ) ambiguous + -itās -ity

Related forms

non·am·bi·gu·i·ty, noun, plural non·am·bi·gu·i·ties.

1. vagueness, deceptiveness. 2. equivocation.

1. explicitness, clarity.

Definition of AMBIGUITY


a : the quality or state of being ambiguous especially in meaning (see ambiguous)

b : a word or expression that can be understood in two or more possible ways : an ambiguous word or expression


  1. the ambiguities in his answers

  2. <the ambiguity of the dead relative's last message allowed the grieving relatives to interpret them however they wished>

  3. A third factor amping your desire to speed things along: Despite the euphoria of those first loves, the initial stages of infatuation can be incredibly unsettling. “You aren't sure yet where you stand with your mate, so you're anxious to shake the ambiguity,” explains Regan. —Molly Triffin et al., Cosmopolitan, January 2008

Related to AMBIGUITY


obscurity, ambiguousness, darkness, equivocalness, equivocation, inscrutability, inscrutableness, murkiness, mysteriousness, nebulosity, nebulousness, obliqueness, obliquity, opacity, opaqueness


clarity, clearness, obviousness, plainness

Related Words

mystery, reconditeness; cloudiness, dimness, faintness, fogginess, fuzziness, haziness, indefiniteness, indistinctness, mistiness, shade, shadow, uncertainty, vagueness; impenetrability, incomprehensibility, incomprehensibleness; circuitousness, circuity, indirectness; deepness, depth, profoundness; abstruseness, abstrusity, complexity, complication, difficulty, obtuseness

Near Antonyms

comprehensibility, intelligibility, legibility; brightness, distinctness, self-evidence; certainty, surety; definiteness, exactness, explicitness, incision, incisiveness, lucidity, lucidness, perspicuity, perspicuousness; directness, forthrightness, openness, straightforwardness; palpability, tangibility, tangibleness, visibility; readability, readableness; obviousness

Rhymes with AMBIGUITY

assiduity, conspicuity, contiguity, continuity, exiguity, incongruity, ingenuity, perpetuity, perspicuity, promiscuity, superfluity

Ambiguity and Ambiguities Sentence Examples

  • Where the words are not clear, other factors can be taken into account to resolve the ambiguity.

  • ambiguity in the precise wording of advertisements and in the use of sound effects must be avoided.

  • Non-linear dynamics in the resolution of lexical ambiguity: a parallel distributed processing account.

  • ambiguity tags are eliminated, the overall error rate rises to almost 2 per cent.

  • GCG uses the letter codes for amino acid codes and nucleotide ambiguity proposed by iupac-iub.

  • experiences in their analysis, they find some definitions unclear, and discover some possible ambiguities in interpretation.

  • speakers of English were asked to judge the grammaticality of comparable word orders and scope ambiguities in English.

  • Tags should be prefixed with @ to avoid ambiguity.

  • The system always allows the user to cater for the inherent ambiguity in its level 1 sources.

  • ambiguity resolution.

  • were there some ambiguities in the definition, there have been wide variations in practice.

  • This should clarify any ambiguity regarding the practices undertaken at Dounreay.

  • Syntactic ambiguity 3. some pointers to the English legal system 3.1.

  • Because the computer can't think, it can't tolerate ambiguity.

  • Modeling the effects of semantic ambiguity in word recognition.

  • With the aim of eliminating any possible ambiguity, we suggest some changes of wording to clarify the status of the non-statutory advice.

  • Ultimately, Anderson was unable to take the debate in to any areas of moral ambiguity that could trouble his panel.

  • The position should be dealt with by an express article applying them in such cases in order to remove any ambiguity.

  • The clue's deliberate ambiguity is helped by the exact nature of the last letter change being left undefined.
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