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[am-biv-uh-luh ns] /æmˈbɪv ə ləns/
uncertainty or fluctuation, especially when caused by inability to make a choice or by a simultaneous desire to say or do two opposite or conflicting things.
Psychology. the coexistence within an individual of positive and negative feelings toward the same person, object, or action, simultaneously drawing him or her in opposite directions.
Also, ambivalency.
Origin of ambivalence
1910-15; ambi- + valence
Related forms
ambivalent, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for ambivalence
  • Americans don't always have a high tolerance for ambivalence.
  • But I guess the fact that they were fighting giant robots take the moral ambivalence out of the picture.
  • Honest and spirited writing that makes this book a compelling read, and one that could melt public ambivalence.
  • Overcoming his initial ambivalence, Thompson accepted the offer last fall.
  • Their ambivalence transforms their anger into resentment.
  • This ambivalence and insecurity may be a passing thing, but it may not be.
  • In private conversations, there is ambivalence and uncertainty.
  • He talks about his accomplishments with a certain detachment that one might mistake for ambivalence.
  • I'm sure this ambivalence is an honest reflection of the difficulties inherent in each point of view.
  • Instead the relationship may be fraught with envy and ambivalence.
British Dictionary definitions for ambivalence


the simultaneous existence of two opposed and conflicting attitudes, emotions, etc
Derived Forms
ambivalent, adjective
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 ambivalence

"simultaneous conflicting feelings," 1924 (1912 as ambivalency), from German Ambivalenz, coined 1910 by Swiss psychologist Eugen Bleuler (1857-1939) on model of German Equivalenz "equivalence," etc., from Latin ambi- "both" (see ambi-) + valentia "strength," from present participle of valere "be strong" (see valiant). A psychological term that by 1929 had taken on a broader literary and general sense.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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ambivalence in Medicine

ambivalence am·biv·a·lence (ām-bĭv'ə-ləns)
The coexistence of opposing attitudes or feelings toward a person, an object, or an idea.

am·biv'a·lent adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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