noun, plural ambiguities.
doubtfulness or uncertainty of meaning or intention: to speak with ambiguity; an ambiguity of manner.
an unclear, indefinite, or equivocal word, expression, meaning, etc.: a contract free of ambiguities; the ambiguities of modern poetry.

1375–1425; late Middle English ambiguite < Latin ambiguitās, equivalent to ambigu(us) ambiguous + -itās -ity

nonambiguity, noun, plural nonambiguities.

1. vagueness, deceptiveness. 2. equivocation.

1. explicitness, clarity. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To ambiguity
World English Dictionary
ambiguity (ˌæmbɪˈɡjuːɪtɪ)
n , 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 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
Cite This Source
Word Origin & History

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
Cite This Source
Encyclopedia Britannica


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

Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
Cite This Source
Example sentences
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.
Copyright © 2014, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature