ambiguous

Definitions

  • WordNet 3.6
    • adj ambiguous having more than one possible meaning "ambiguous words","frustrated by ambiguous instructions, the parents were unable to assemble the toy"
    • adj ambiguous open to two or more interpretations; or of uncertain nature or significance; or (often) intended to mislead "an equivocal statement","the polling had a complex and equivocal (or ambiguous) message for potential female candidates","the officer's equivocal behavior increased the victim's uneasiness","popularity is an equivocal crown","an equivocal response to an embarrassing question"
    • adj ambiguous having no intrinsic or objective meaning; not organized in conventional patterns "an ambiguous situation with no frame of reference","ambiguous inkblots"
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • a Ambiguous Doubtful or uncertain, particularly in respect to signification; capable of being understood in either of two or more possible senses; equivocal; as, an ambiguous course; an ambiguous expression. "What have been thy answers? What but dark, Ambiguous , and with double sense deluding?"
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Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • ambiguous Of doubtful or uncertain nature; wanting clearness or definiteness; difficult to comprehend or distinguish; indistinct; obscure.
    • ambiguous Of doubtful purport; open to various interpretations; having a double meaning; equivocal.
    • ambiguous Wavering; undecided; hesitating: as, “ambiguous in all their doings,” Milton, Eikono-klastes (1649), p. 239.
    • ambiguous Using obscure or equivocal language.
    • ambiguous Synonyms Equivocal, etc. (see obscure), indeterminate, indefinite, indistinct, not clear, not plain, amphibolous, dubious, vague, enigmatical, dark, blind.
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Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • adj Ambiguous am-big′ū-us of doubtful signification: indistinct: wavering or uncertain: equivocal
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Quotations

  • Bertrand Russell
    Bertrand%20Russell
    “In the revolt against idealism, the ambiguities of the word experience have been perceived, with the result that realists have more and more avoided the word.”
  • J. S. Habgood
    J. S. Habgood
    “All knowledge is ambiguous.”
  • Gilda Radner
    Gilda Radner
    “Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity.”
  • Thomas Reid
    Thomas Reid
    “There is no greater impediment to the advancement of knowledge than the ambiguity of words.”

Etymology

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
L. ambiguus, fr. ambigere, to wander about, waver; amb-, + agere, to drive
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
L. ambiguusambigĕre, to go about—ambi, about, agĕre, to drive.

Usage

In literature:

To be sure no details could be disentangled from the discreet ambiguities of the Master and the Professor.
"The Tree of Heaven" by May Sinclair
The play opens in the dark, and remains for some time brilliantly ambiguous.
"Plays, Acting and Music" by Arthur Symons
Then, subtly concealing his purpose, he nodded an ambiguous acceptance.
"Nedra" by George Barr McCutcheon
He had not reckoned on this complication; and it made the ambiguity of his position detestable.
"The Divine Fire" by May Sinclair
For example, the sentence, "The savage here the settler slew," is ambiguous.
"An English Grammar" by W. M. Baskervill and J. W. Sewell
The press would chatter and make odd ambiguous sounds like a shipload of monkeys in a storm.
"Mr. Britling Sees It Through" by H. G. Wells
The passion by which he is swayed is never, in its expression, ambiguous or exotic, his sensuousness is never luscious.
"Edward MacDowell" by Lawrence Gilman
I have expressed myself ambiguously at the end of this chapter.
"Plutarch's Lives, Volume II" by Aubrey Stewart & George Long
Now such expressions are ambiguous in Latin, as is shown by numerous examples.
"Plutarch's Lives Volume III." by Plutarch
But Alexander had another and weightier excuse for not denuding his realm of troops, namely, the ambiguous policy of Prussia.
"The Life of Napoleon I (Volumes, 1 and 2)" by John Holland Rose
The phrase, in itself, was ambiguous.
"The Life of John Milton, Volume 5 (of 7), 1654-1660" by David Masson
But as a fundamental principle of democratic policy it is as ambiguous in this respect as it is in other respects.
"The Promise Of American Life" by Herbert David Croly
This was ambiguous, and yet it was pretty plain.
"Sketches In The House (1893)" by T. P. O'Connor
But as regards the other saints of Ireland there is no ambiguity.
"The Latin & Irish Lives of Ciaran" by Anonymous
This was a most delicate and difficult thing to do and Patsy blundered and floundered until her very ambiguity aroused alarm.
"Aunt Jane's Nieces in the Red Cross" by Edith Van Dyne
The word one, as oneness, is an ambiguous word.
"Sermons Preached at Brighton" by Frederick W. Robertson
Ransom had really another colour; it deepened the ambiguity of her position, by reason of a prevision which I shall presently mention.
"The Bostonians, Vol. II (of II)" by Henry James
There is no ambiguity nor uncertainty in the language; nor was there any difference in the Convention as to the use of it.
"The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government, Vol. 1 (of 2)" by Jefferson Davis
In consequence his reading aloud was highly ambiguous.
"A Busy Year at the Old Squire's" by Charles Asbury Stephens
A rare ambiguity on this point was part of the fascination she had ended by throwing over him.
"The Tragic Muse" by Henry James
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In poetry:

By it they stand, by it they fall,
What e'er the ambiguities,
They look to its intrinsic call,
For metes and bounds efficiencies.
"The Deed Vs. Assessment Rolls" by Samuel Alfred Beadle
I dreamed of strange lips yesterday
And cheeks wherein the ambiguous blood
Was like a rose’s—yea,
A rose’s when it lay
Within the bud.
"Fragoletta" by Algernon Charles Swinburne
Imagine, then, by miracle, with me,
(Ambiguous gifts, as what gods give must be)
What could not possibly be there,
And learn a style from a despair.
"This Last Pain" by William Empson
Pitiful delusion!--in no nomenclature--
Maugre its profusion--O ambiguous nature!
Can man find expression of his own relation
To the great procession of facts in creation?
"A Pagan Reverie" by Frances Fuller Victor
Their board no strange ambiguous viand bore
From their own streams their choicer fare they drew;
To lure the scaly glutton to the shore,
The sole deceit their artless bosom knew!
"Elegy XV. In Memory of a Private Family in Worcestershire" by William Shenstone
One notices, if one will trust one's eyes,
The shadow cast by language upon truth:
He saw his role as father to an earth
Whose speechless, separate, and ambiguous things
Married at his decision; he was there
To show a lucid passion for their fate.
"Kairos and Logos" by W H Auden

In news:

Language is inherently ambiguous, so keyword searching can be an exercise in frustration, especially on the Internet.
Remembering our veterans and reflecting on the glorious ambiguity of Rudyard Kipling 's war poetry.
Three sections within the Santa Rosa County land development code were amended to clarify ambiguities within the code.
There is nothing ambiguous about the image in my mind.
Pop Music is Getting Sadder —and More Ambiguous.
' Silkwood ': good intentions are fogged in by ambiguity.
The ambiguity of the dinosaur provokes ambivalent responses.
Where a judge found that a defendant corporation terminated its contract with the plaintiff, the existence of an ambiguity requires that the judgment be vacated and the case remanded.
Xavier Durringer's dramatized recreation of the rise of France's Nicolas Sarkozy (Denis Podalydès) to the presidency is generally fair-minded and ambiguous.
Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, whose critical writings on the ambiguities of sexual identity in fiction helped create the discipline known as queer studies, died on Sunday in Manhattan.
Panel finds ambiguity in chiropractor's policy.
The layers of election law written in near-crisis mode over the past few years have created an ambiguous legal landscape for the state's election officials.
But sometimes there are those ambiguous little words turn into something big.
The big question in this maniacally ambiguous, then painfully obvious thriller (2001) is, can Denzel Washington be trusted.
The New Yorker is deservedly famous for its fact-checking department, which strains every sentence for errors and inadvertent ambiguities.
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In science:

This ambiguity is resolved by defining color and anti-color according to the physical time order. A quark will always have its color tag ICOLUP(1,I) filled, but never its anti-color tag ICOLUP(2,I).
Generic User Process Interface for Event Generators
Our study hints at further connections between: 1/N and thermal boundary layers, RSB, and how to fix the ambiguities in the anomalous terms in the β -function.
Functional renormalization group at large N for random manifolds
Generally we are quite anarchistic in our notation, as long as it does not create ambiguities.
The temporal calculus of conditional objects and conditional events
When we work at the QFT level, we find previous understanding to the origin of zbw is ambiguous or misleading.
New interpretation to zitterbewegung
This procedure has been applied successfully to many systems but contain ambiguities, like variable ordering, and has invariance problems.
The categorical theory of relations and quantizations
There are not two different regimes, as in the case of the ASM, and the parameter ac represents only an ambiguity in the mass of the photon.
Exact Renormalization of Massless QED2
There is a slight ambiguity because XPro jY serves both as the Lie algebra and as the collection of infinitesimal generators.
A Frame Bundle Generalization of Multisymplectic Momentum Mappings
Russell realized the importance of G¨odel’s work, but expressed his continuous puzzlement in a rather ambiguous way in a letter from 1 April 1963 (addressed to L.
Incompleteness, Complexity, Randomness and Beyond
To avoid ambiguity, we use — when necessary — subscripts or superscripts to indicate the root colour, e.g. Eα (·) for expectations, Y (α) for random variables, etc.
Random walks in random environment on trees and multiplicative chaos
In this model, there are no ambiguities concerning the choice of the initial vacuum state.
Trans-Planckian Physics and the Spectrum of Fluctuations in a Bouncing Universe
To begin with, we need to separate two cases when an expression can match more than one fragment: ambiguity and multiplicity.
Using Tree Automata and Regular Expressions to Manipulate Hierarchically Structured Data
Ambiguity happens when a sub-expression can match one out of several alternatives, for example, in an expression like r* · (r) · r*.
Using Tree Automata and Regular Expressions to Manipulate Hierarchically Structured Data
Ambiguity is traditionally solved by imposing longest-match or shortest-match rules, or by forbidding ambiguous regular expressions.
Using Tree Automata and Regular Expressions to Manipulate Hierarchically Structured Data
There is an ambiguity in the quantization, we follow Ra jeev’s original approach[12, 1], we will remove the nondynamical fields after quantizing the dynamical field, ψα .
Large N limit of SO(N) gauge theory of fermions and bosons
This dependence causes no gauge ambiguity of observables only if it reduces to the symmetry transformations.
General Covariance in Quantum Gravity
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