Definition of ambiguous in US English:

ambiguous

adjective

  • 1(of language) open to more than one interpretation; having a double meaning.

    ‘ambiguous phrases’
    ‘the question is rather ambiguous’
    • ‘But even this latter assertion is somewhat uncertain and ambiguous for several reasons.’
    • ‘His remarks were ambiguous, and it will be the tone that matters.’
    • ‘Had it been seen abstracted from that context by the US public, there would have been a more ambiguous reaction.’
    • ‘This can result in obscurity or in a ruling which is ambiguous on matters of importance.’
    • ‘He gives an ambiguous answer to his initial question.’
    • ‘The Constitution is an ambiguous document open to interpretation by all.’
    • ‘For the record, I say to the House this law is ambiguous in terms of its interpretation.’
    • ‘The very nature of his removal remains for the moment ambiguous.’
    • ‘The motivating fictional element is a subversive or ambiguous move.’
    • ‘But what elevates the novel beyond the genre is the ambiguous, enigmatic voice of Mary herself.’
    • ‘Much of the report is hard to read and contains many ambiguous or misleading statements.’
    • ‘Others are more enigmatic and ambiguous in both their origins and meanings.’
    • ‘Agreeing with a set of vague and ambiguous statements makes you dogmatic?’
    • ‘They considered the Act to be ambiguous and open to interpretation on this point.’
    • ‘Mr Sumption says, if necessary, that in the present case the phraseology is both obscure and ambiguous.’
    • ‘I seem to remember the novel being a bit more ambiguous than that.’
    • ‘However, do not be fooled by this statement; it is ambiguous and misleading.’
    • ‘Once more, the evidence is ambiguous and interpretations have become polarized.’
    • ‘Either way, you just can't be quoted saying such amazingly ambiguous statements.’
    • ‘It is inherent in their task which involves applying rules stated in words that are often ambiguous.’
    equivocal, ambivalent, open to debate, open to argument, arguable, debatable
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Unclear or inexact because a choice between alternatives has not been made.
      ‘the election result was ambiguous’
      ‘this whole society is morally ambiguous’
      • ‘The painting may also be read as a glorification of the moral virtue of rural America or even as an ambiguous mixture of praise and satire.’
      • ‘People have ambiguous, often funny notions about this ancient system of Indian medicine.’
      • ‘It's an ambiguous performance that will leave the viewer with questions long after the lights go down.’
      • ‘The workers' status as private sector employees, though, is at best ambiguous.’
      • ‘Whether their other plans are ambiguous or meaningless is unclear.’
      • ‘His play has been described as an ambiguous presentation of two equally flawed characters.’
      • ‘I wanted a book that showed us how ambiguous we are, or how ambivalent we are.’
      • ‘Then it strikes me that perhaps, like an ambiguous picture, both can exist simultaneously and have their own truth.’
      • ‘Watching the disintegration of a man's dreams is uncomfortable, however morally ambiguous he might be.’
      • ‘Two viewings suggest that deciphering the complex, ambiguous plot may not be worth the effort.’
      • ‘As I have argued before on these pages, that rage is morally ambiguous.’
      • ‘Instead of tidy, maudlin conclusions, the film is handed an ambiguous closure.’
      • ‘The uncertainty of the public mood was mirrored by the ambiguous nature of the government.’
      • ‘However this is marred by the ambiguous lyrical content that attempts to pass itself off as meaningful.’
      • ‘This ambiguous attitude makes his art cryptic: viewers are left grasping at answers.’
      • ‘Or does moralizing have to take a more ambiguous tone to be acceptable?’
      • ‘Judging by the reactions of some in the audience, the content of the film wasn't ambiguous to everyone.’
      • ‘Not only is it complex, ambiguous and inter-generational, but it is largely self-inflicted.’
      • ‘But if the political climate is ambiguous, there's still reason to celebrate.’
      • ‘Is it any wonder that his ambiguous hybrid art dissolves boundaries in such an equivocal manner?’
      equivocal, ambivalent, open to debate, open to argument, arguable, debatable
      View synonyms

Origin

Early 16th century (in the sense ‘indistinct, obscure’): from Latin ambiguus ‘doubtful’ (from ambigere ‘waver, go around’, from ambi- ‘both ways’ + agere ‘to drive’) + -ous.

Pronunciation

ambiguous

/amˈbiɡyo͞oəs//æmˈbɪɡjuəs/