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Meaning & Definition of Ambiguous in English





1. 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"
  • equivocal,
  • ambiguous

2. Having more than one possible meaning

  • "Ambiguous words"
  • "Frustrated by ambiguous instructions, the parents were unable to assemble the toy"
  • ambiguous

3. Having no intrinsic or objective meaning

  • Not organized in conventional patterns
  • "An ambiguous situation with no frame of reference"
  • "Ambiguous inkblots"
  • ambiguous

Examples of using

When an English speaker realises that a foreign person they are speaking to doesn't understand one of their sentences, they repeat it, the same way, but louder, as though the person were deaf. At no point does it come to their mind that their vocabulary might be complicated or that their expression might most probably be ambiguous to a foreigner and that they could reword it in a simpler way. The result is that not only the person still doesn't understand, but gets irritated at being considered deaf.
One may add matres lectionis when the word could be ambiguous, but surely it is not obligatory.
What an ambiguous expression!