ambiguous

ambiguously, adv.ambiguousness, n.
/am big"yooh euhs/, adj.
1. open to or having several possible meanings or interpretations; equivocal: an ambiguous answer.
2. Ling. (of an expression) exhibiting constructional homonymity; having two or more structural descriptions, as the sequence Flying planes can be dangerous.
3. of doubtful or uncertain nature; difficult to comprehend, distinguish, or classify: a rock of ambiguous character.
4. lacking clearness or definiteness; obscure; indistinct: an ambiguous shape; an ambiguous future.
[1520-30; < L ambiguus, equiv. to ambig(ere) be uncertain (amb- AMBI- + -igere comb. form of agere to drive, lead, act) + -uus deverbal adj. suffix; see -OUS]
Syn. 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.
Ant. 1. explicit. 3. certain. 4. clear, precise, unambiguous.

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • ambiguous — (adj.) 1520s, from L. ambiguus having double meaning, shifting, changeable, doubtful, adjective derived from ambigere to dispute about, lit. to wander, from ambi about (see AMBI (Cf. ambi )) + agere drive, lead, act (see ACT (Cf. act)). Sir… …   Etymology dictionary

  • ambiguous — equivocal, cryptic, enigmatic, vague, *obscure, dark Analogous words: dubious, *doubtful, questionable Antonyms: explicit Contrasted words: lucid, perspicuous, *clear: express, definite, specific, categorical (see EXPLICIT) …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • ambiguous — [adj] having more than one meaning clear as dishwater*, cryptic, doubtful, dubious, enigmatic, enigmatical, equivocal, inconclusive, indefinite, indeterminate, inexplicit, muddy, obscure, opaque, puzzling, questionable, tenebrous, uncertain,… …   New thesaurus

  • ambiguous — ► ADJECTIVE 1) (of language) having more than one meaning. 2) not clear or decided. DERIVATIVES ambiguously adverb. ORIGIN Latin ambiguus doubtful …   English terms dictionary

  • ambiguous — [am big′yo͞o əs] adj. [L ambiguus < ambigere, to wander < ambi , about, around + agere, to do, ACT1] 1. having two or more possible meanings 2. not clear; indefinite; vague SYN. OBSCURE ambiguously adv. ambiguousness n …   English World dictionary

  • ambiguous — 01. The President was purposefully [ambiguous] in his reply. 02. I feel pretty [ambiguous] about the party. I hope it s a success, but I don t want to go myself. 03. There can be no [ambiguity] over the right of people to say what they believe.… …   Grammatical examples in English

  • ambiguous — am•big•u•ous [[t]æmˈbɪg yu əs[/t]] adj. 1) cv open to or having several possible meanings or interpretations: an ambiguous answer[/ex] 2) difficult to comprehend, distinguish, or classify: a rock of ambiguous character[/ex] 3) lacking clearness… …   From formal English to slang

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