ambition


ambition
\ \ [14] Like ambient, ambition comes ultimately from the Latin compound verb ambīrego round’ (formed from the prefix ambi-, as in AMBIDEXTROUS, and the verb īrego’, which also gave English exit, initial, and itinerant). But while ambient, a 16th-century acquisition, remains fairly faithful to the literal meaning of the verb, ambition depends on a more metaphorical use. It seems that the verb’s nominal derivative, ambitiō, developed connotations of ‘going around soliciting votes’ – ‘canvassing’, in fact – and hence, figuratively, of ‘seeking favour or honour’. When the word was first borrowed into English, via Old French ambition, it had distinctly negative associations of ‘greed for success’ (Reginald Pecock writes of ‘Vices [such] as pride, ambition, vainglory’, The repressor of overmuch blaming of the clergy 1449), but by the 18th century it was a more respectable emotion.
\ \ Cf.EXIT, INITIAL, ITINERANT

Word origins - 2ed. . 2005.

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  • ambition — [ ɑ̃bisjɔ̃ ] n. f. • ambicion XIIIe; lat. ambitio 1 ♦ Désir ardent d obtenir les biens qui peuvent flatter l amour propre (pouvoir, honneurs, réussite sociale). « Les hommes commencent par l amour, finissent par l ambition » (La Bruyère). Il a de …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • ambition — AMBITION. s. f. Désir immodéré d honneur, de gloire, d élévation, de distinction. Grande ambition. Ambition déréglée. Ambition démesurée. Ambition sans bornes. Ambition insatiable. Avoir de l ambition.Ambition, se prend aussi en bonne part; mais… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie Française 1798

  • ambition — AMBITION. s. f. Desir excessif d honneur & de grandeur. Grande, desreglée, furieuse, horrible, execrable, pernicieuse ambition. avoir de l ambition. faire quelque chose par ambition. c est un homme sans ambition. plein d ambition. brusler d… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • ambition — UK US /æmˈbɪʃən/ noun ► [C] a strong wish to achieve a particular thing: ambition to do sth »After his heart attack, he abandoned his ambition to become CEO. achieve/fulfil/realize your ambition »He has already achieved his main ambition in life… …   Financial and business terms

  • ambition — ambition, aspiration, pretension mean strong desire for advancement. Ambition has personal advancement or preferment as its end; it may be praiseworthy but is sometimes inordinate {ambition for fame} {ambition to hold office} {Iambition to… …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • Ambition — • The undue craving for honor Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Ambition     Ambition     † …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Ambition — Am*bi tion, n. [F. ambition, L. ambitio a going around, especially of candidates for office is Rome, to solicit votes (hence, desire for office or honor), fr. ambire to go around. See {Ambient}, {Issue}.] 1. The act of going about to solicit or… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • ambition — Ambition, Ambitio, Ambitus. L homme duquel l ambition le rend mal heureux, Miser ambitionis. Quand on ne va plus que à ambition, ou autre chose, Emeritis stipendiis ambitionis. Tout va par ambition et dissimulation aujourd huy, Mores iam nostri… …   Thresor de la langue françoyse

  • Ambition — is the possession of motivation for power. Ambitious persons seek power either for themselves, for others, or to weild power over others in the name of an ideal.When used to seek an ideal, ambition develops a close relationship to… …   Wikipedia

  • ambition — (n.) mid 14c., from M.Fr. ambition or directly from L. ambitionem (nom. ambitio) a going around, especially to solicit votes, hence a striving for favor, courting, flattery; a desire for honor, thirst for popularity, noun of action from pp. stem… …   Etymology dictionary

  • Ambition — »‹beruflicher› Ehrgeiz«: Das Substantiv ist im 16. Jh. über gleichbed. frz. ambition aus lat. ambitio entlehnt. Das lat. Substantiv bedeutet eigentlich »das Herumgehen«, dann im speziell politischen Sinn »das Herumgehen bei den Wählern in der… …   Das Herkunftswörterbuch


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