ambiguous


ambiguous
\ \ [16] Ambiguous carries the etymological notion of ‘wandering around uncertainly’. It comes ultimately from the Latin compound verb ambigere, which was formed from the prefix ambi- (as in AMBIDEXTROUS) and the verb ageredrive, lead’ (a prodigious source of English words, including act and agent). From the verb was derived the adjective ambiguus, which was borrowed directly into English. The first to use it seems to have been Sir Thomas More: ‘if it were now doubtful and ambiguous whether the church of Christ were in the right rule of doctrine or notA dialogue concerning heresies 1528.
\ \ Cf.ACT, AGENT

Word origins - 2ed. . 2005.

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  • ambiguous — I adjective abstruse, ambiguus, ambivalent, confused, difficult to comprehend, doubtful, dubious, equivocal, having a double meaning, indefinite, indistinct, inexact, lacking clearness, not clear, not plain, obscure, open to various… …   Law dictionary

  • Ambiguous — Am*big u*ous, a. [L. ambiguus, fr. ambigere to wander about, waver; amb + agere to drive.] Doubtful or uncertain, particularly in respect to signification; capable of being understood in either of two or more possible senses; equivocal; as, an… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • ambiguous — UK US /æmˈbɪgjuəs/ adjective ► having more than one possible meaning, and therefore likely to cause confusion: »Many companies are appealing against the ruling, because the wording is ambiguous …   Financial and business terms

  • ambiguous — (adj.) 1520s, from L. ambiguus having double meaning, shifting, changeable, doubtful, adjective derived from ambigere to dispute about, lit. to wander, from ambi about (see AMBI (Cf. ambi )) + agere drive, lead, act (see ACT (Cf. act)). Sir… …   Etymology dictionary

  • ambiguous — equivocal, cryptic, enigmatic, vague, *obscure, dark Analogous words: dubious, *doubtful, questionable Antonyms: explicit Contrasted words: lucid, perspicuous, *clear: express, definite, specific, categorical (see EXPLICIT) …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • ambiguous — [adj] having more than one meaning clear as dishwater*, cryptic, doubtful, dubious, enigmatic, enigmatical, equivocal, inconclusive, indefinite, indeterminate, inexplicit, muddy, obscure, opaque, puzzling, questionable, tenebrous, uncertain,… …   New thesaurus

  • ambiguous — ► ADJECTIVE 1) (of language) having more than one meaning. 2) not clear or decided. DERIVATIVES ambiguously adverb. ORIGIN Latin ambiguus doubtful …   English terms dictionary

  • ambiguous — [am big′yo͞o əs] adj. [L ambiguus < ambigere, to wander < ambi , about, around + agere, to do, ACT1] 1. having two or more possible meanings 2. not clear; indefinite; vague SYN. OBSCURE ambiguously adv. ambiguousness n …   English World dictionary

  • ambiguous — 01. The President was purposefully [ambiguous] in his reply. 02. I feel pretty [ambiguous] about the party. I hope it s a success, but I don t want to go myself. 03. There can be no [ambiguity] over the right of people to say what they believe.… …   Grammatical examples in English

  • ambiguous — ambiguously, adv. ambiguousness, n. /am big yooh euhs/, adj. 1. open to or having several possible meanings or interpretations; equivocal: an ambiguous answer. 2. Ling. (of an expression) exhibiting constructional homonymity; having two or more… …   Universalium

  • ambiguous — am•big•u•ous [[t]æmˈbɪg yu əs[/t]] adj. 1) cv open to or having several possible meanings or interpretations: an ambiguous answer[/ex] 2) difficult to comprehend, distinguish, or classify: a rock of ambiguous character[/ex] 3) lacking clearness… …   From formal English to slang


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