< Latin ambiguus,
equivalent to ambig
) be uncertain (amb- ambi-
combining form of agere
to drive, lead, act) + -uus
deverbal adj. suffix; see -ous
ambiguously, adverbambiguousness, noununambiguous, adjective
Can be confused
1. ambiguous, equivocal, cryptic, enigmatic
describe conditions or statements not clear in meaning. ambiguous
can refer to a statement, act, or attitude that is capable of two or more often contradictory interpretations, usually accidentally or unintentionally so: an ambiguous passage in the preamble. equivocal
usually applied to spoken as well as written language, also means susceptible of two or more interpretations, and it usually suggests a deliberate intent to mislead by avoiding clarity: saving face with an equivocal response to an embarrassing question. cryptic
usually refers to intentional obscurity, especially in language, and often implies a private or hidden meaning but stresses resultant mystification or puzzlement: a cryptic remark that left us struggling to interpret his intention. enigmatic
focuses on perplexity resulting from a mysterious or imponderable event or utterance, often one of great importance or deep significance: prophetic texts so enigmatic that their meaning has been disputed for centuries. 3.
dubious, vague, indeterminate, unclassifiable, anomalous. 4.
puzzling, enigmatic, problematic.
clear, precise, unambiguous.