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ambiguity

[am-bi-gyoo-i-tee] /ˌæm bɪˈgyu ɪ ti/
noun, plural ambiguities.
1.
doubtfulness or uncertainty of meaning or intention:
to speak with ambiguity; an ambiguity of manner.
2.
an unclear, indefinite, or equivocal word, expression, meaning, etc.:
a contract free of ambiguities; the ambiguities of modern poetry.
Origin
late Middle English
1375-1425
1375-1425; late Middle English ambiguite < Latin ambiguitās, equivalent to ambigu(us) ambiguous + -itās -ity
Related forms
nonambiguity, noun, plural nonambiguities.
Synonyms
1. vagueness, deceptiveness. 2. equivocation.
Antonyms
1. explicitness, clarity.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples for ambiguities
  • No other figure from antiquity seems so versatile in her ambiguities, so modern in her contradictions.
  • It is necessary therefore to shun ambiguities and not to confound consequences.
  • Lily lives in a world of fine gradations and unresolved ambiguities.
  • Decisions were supported by clear majorities, free of the ambiguities that often plague rulings on highly charged subjects.
  • They are reasons to get to work ironing out the ambiguities and devising workable laws.
  • Resolving verbal ambiguities involves the calculation of probabilities derived from the real-time context.
  • Finally, there are ambiguities over capital requirements.
  • Instead, he escalated his rhetoric, in an attempt to overpower any ambiguities.
  • The markets are testing the ambiguities to destruction.
  • But the ambiguities of science sit uncomfortably with the demands of politics.
British Dictionary definitions for ambiguities

ambiguity

/ˌæmbɪˈɡjuːɪtɪ/
noun (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
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for ambiguities
ambiguity
c.1400, from Fr. ambiguite or directly from M.L. ambiguitatem (nom. ambiguitas), noun of state from ambiguus (see ambiguous). Originally "uncertainty, doubt;" sense of "capability of having two meanings" is from early 15c.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for ambiguities

ambiguity

use of words that allow alternative interpretations. In factual, explanatory prose, ambiguity is considered an error in reasoning or diction; in literary prose or poetry, it often functions to increase the richness and subtlety of language and to imbue it with a complexity that expands the literal meaning of the original statement. William Empson's Seven Types of Ambiguity (1930; rev. ed. 1953) remains a full and useful treatment of the subject

Learn more about ambiguity with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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16
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