Ambiguous



open to or having several possible meanings or interpretations; equivocal:
an ambiguous answer.
Linguistics. (of an expression) exhibiting constructional homonymity; having two or more structural descriptions, as the sequence Flying planes can be dangerous.
of doubtful or uncertain nature; difficult to comprehend, distinguish, or classify:
a rock of ambiguous character.
lacking clearness or definiteness; obscure; indistinct:
an ambiguous shape; an ambiguous future.
Contemporary Examples

I think feminists might be really hesitant to jump into a story like this when the language itself is so ambiguous.
The Bristol Date-Rape Question Jesse Ellison June 22, 2011

Peter Jukes on his ambiguous legacy of bloodletting and self-preservation.
The Gray Lady’s Shotgun Wedding: Mark Thompson Joins The New York Times Peter Jukes August 14, 2012

“The subject area in question is subjective and ambiguous,” he wrote.
Fired From Los Alamos for Pushing Obama’s Nuclear Agenda Center for Public Integrity July 30, 2014

We can only speculate as to the intentions behind these ambiguous words.
Is Pope Francis Backpedaling on Gays? Jay Michaelson November 18, 2014

In an awkward scene, Frodo speaks with his uncle (an elderly version of Bilbo) about an ambiguous adventure he had long ago.
‘The Hobbit’: 19 Changes from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Novel to Peter Jackson’s Movie Anna Klassen December 13, 2012

Historical Examples

This was too ambiguous for the other leaders, and the opportunity was allowed to pass.
With the “Die-Hards” in Siberia John Ward

“Possibly,” said he, with an ambiguous half smile, which I did not understand.
The First Violin Jessie Fothergill

All that had been alien or ambiguous became as close and true and simple as the thoughts in her own mind.
One Man in His Time Ellen Glasgow

Such are the modes in which propositions and terms may be ambiguous.’
Euthydemus Plato

But he gave them an ambiguous little grimace which was meant to suggest a minor but sticky snarl behind the scenes.
A Mixture of Genius Arnold Castle

adjective
having more than one possible interpretation or meaning
difficult to understand or classify; obscure
adj.

1520s, from Latin ambiguus “having double meaning, shifting, changeable, doubtful,” adjective derived from ambigere “to dispute about,” literally “to wander,” from ambi- “about” (see ambi-) + agere “drive, lead, act” (see act). Sir Thomas More (1528) seems to have first used it in English, but ambiguity dates back to c.1400. Related: Ambiguously; ambiguousness.

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    ambiguous external genitalia ambiguous external genitalia am·big·u·ous external genitalia (ām-bĭg’yōō-əs) n. External genitalia that physically do not appear to be either male or female in form.



  • Ambiguously

    open to or having several possible meanings or interpretations; equivocal: an ambiguous answer. Linguistics. (of an expression) exhibiting constructional homonymity; having two or more structural descriptions, as the sequence Flying planes can be dangerous. of doubtful or uncertain nature; difficult to comprehend, distinguish, or classify: a rock of ambiguous character. lacking clearness or definiteness; obscure; […]

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