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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 from the web for ambiguity
  • Also, uncertainty and ambiguity-not being sure how people are reacting to them-seems to affect people.
  • Around me, they feel no need to cower in corners faced with the ambiguity, general squishiness and uncertainty of biology.
  • For him the drama is in contrasts, the meaning in ambiguity.
  • It may be remarked in passing that the Court here appears to be creating an ambiguity which is not apparent in the text.
  • From the start this music is steeped in ambiguity.
  • The brain abhors ambiguity, yet we are curiously attracted to it.
  • But this may or may not be true--the narrative veers toward ambiguity.
  • There seems to be some ambiguity in the word dinosaur.
  • The outlaw's favorite weapon remains his moral ambiguity.
  • But this may or may not be true—the narrative veers toward ambiguity.
British Dictionary definitions for ambiguity

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 ambiguity
n.

c.1400, "uncertainty, doubt, indecision, hesitation," also from Medieval Latin ambiguitatem (nominative ambiguitas) "double meaning, equivocalness, double sense," noun of state from ambiguus (see ambiguous).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for 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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