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[am-biv-uh-luh nt] /æmˈbɪv ə lənt/
having mixed feelings about someone or something; being unable to choose between two (usually opposing) courses of action: The whole family was ambivalent about the move to the suburbs.
She is regarded as a morally ambivalent character in the play.
Psychology. of or relating to 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.
Origin of ambivalent
back formation from ambivalence
Related forms
ambivalently, adverb
Can be confused
ambiguous, ambivalent. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for ambivalent
  • Taft's use of the patronage power was ambivalent.
  • He guarantees jobs, an impossible-to-keep promise that tests well with ambivalent voters.
  • The general attitude of the public toward this industry is ambivalent; the historical details prove instructive.
  • He was ambivalent, not sure he wanted to compete.
  • But more ambivalent is society's posture toward the civil disobedient.
  • The founding fathers were ambivalent about immigration.
  • He's become rather ambivalent on that topic, refusing to raise his hopes.
  • Communities may be ambivalent about or even hostile to efforts to preserve their languages.
  • The ambivalent ruling proved that copyright law is not up to speed with the software industry.
  • Others appeared ambivalent or even relieved about the defeat.
Word Origin and History for ambivalent

1916, originally a term in psychology; back-formation from ambivalence. In general use by 1929.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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