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ambiguous


Her answer was ambiguous.
  unclear — because there could be two or more interpretations
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ambiguous ambiguities ambiguity ambiguously ambiguousness
Notes:
Ambiguity is sometimes intentional.
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Samples:
  • Her answer was ambiguous.
  • The Constitution of the United States is intentionally ambiguous — requiring human judgment to interpret difficult questions.
  • Inkblots are intentionally ambiguous.
  • I don’t do well with ambiguous threats.
    Suzanne Collins  --  Catching Fire

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  • He shouted, "You will not kill my girlfriend today, International Terrorist of Ambiguous Nationality!"
    John Green  --  The Fault in Our Stars
  • Till we can clear these ambiguities
    William Shakespeare  --  Romeo and Juliet
  • ...their feelings are still ambiguous.
    Orson Scott Card  --  Ender’s Game
  • The sums are the scoundrel’s share, and where he feared an ambiguity, you see he added something clearer.
    Robert Louis Stevenson  --  Treasure Island
  • her role seemed to be ambiguous
    John Hersey  --  Hiroshima
  • they carried it on their backs and shoulders-and for all the ambiguities of Vietnam, all the mysteries and unknowns, there was at least the single abiding certainty that they would never be at a loss for things to carry.
    Tim O’Brien  --  The Things They Carried

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  • The comment was ambiguous, and intended so,
    Hal Borland  --  When the Legends Die
  • Thus, from beneath the black veil, there rolled a cloud into the sunshine, an ambiguity of sin or sorrow, which enveloped the poor minister, so that love or sympathy could never reach him.
    Nathaniel Hawthorne  --  The Minister’s Black Veil
  • There was no ambiguity in anything;
    Henry James  --  The Turn of the Screw
  • It was a very ambiguous contract.
    Robert Penn Warren  --  All the King’s Men
  • When I was young, I couldn’t tolerate such ambiguity.
    Jay Allison, et al.  --  This I Believe II
  • They had the kind of back-and-forth that left no ambiguity or question, saying exactly what they meant, when they meant it.
    Sarah Dessen  --  Along for the Ride
  • "I always feel lousy without shoes," I said with an ambiguous smile.
    Sylvia Plath  --  The Bell Jar
  • That you, at such times seeing me, never shall—
    With arms encumber’d thus, or this head-shake,
    Or by pronouncing of some doubtful phrase,
    As ’Well, well, we know’; or ’We could, an if we would’;
    Or ’If we list to speak’; or ’There be, an if they might’;
    Or such ambiguous giving out—to note
    That you know aught of me.  This not to do,
    William Shakespeare  --  Hamlet, Prince of Denmark
  • he at last confronts his mother and in a scene of provocative ambiguity-(a somewhat oedipal embrace)
    Tom Stoppard  --  Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
  • Or can it be, for we should let the deliberate ambiguity in these lines play both ways, that she herself wishes to woo the man who might just be her husband by flirting with the suitors in order to make him jealous?
    Homer  --  The Odyssey
  • Clinton," he had said, when Henry ventured to inquire about a particularly ambiguous examination, "you may write until doomsday for all I care, but if your answers do not coincide with my answers they are wrong.
    Harper Lee  --  Go Set a Watchman
  • She’s gone for a while, and as I wait the ambiguity she left in the booth curdles its way into the deepest part of me.
    Gayle Forman  --  Where She Went
  • "You’re as safe as I can make you," I said ambiguously.
    Patrick Rothfuss  --  The Name of the Wind
  • He experienced a few ambiguous symptoms on a job site, was all, and De’Ontay insisted on driving him to the emergency room.
    Anne Tayler  --  A Spool of Blue Thread
  • Minds are always drifting toward ambiguity, toward questions, when what you really need is certainty.
    Anthony Doerr  --  All the Light We Cannot See
  • It was an ambiguous question mark.
    William Styron  --  Sophie’s Choice
  • I find I have a minor, ambiguous reputation, from the show in Toronto, and I am invited to parties.
    Margaret Atwood  --  Cat’s Eye
  • It seemed only the rankest luck that the letter to Hobie had been so ambiguous.
    Donna Tartt  --  The Goldfinch
  • All ambiguities and shades of meaning had been purged out of them.
    George Orwell  --  1984
  • "Well, I married him," said Myrtle, ambiguously.
    F. Scott Fitzgerald  --  The Great Gatsby
  • She said there was comfort to be found in the permanence of mathematical truths, in the lack of arbitrariness and the absence of ambiguity.
    Khaled Hosseini  --  And The Mountains Echoed
  • How well does a culture tolerate ambiguity?
    Malcolm Gladwell  --  Outliers
  • "Not at all," he replied ambiguously, reaching for a pair of crutches which leaned against the desk.
    John Knowles  --  A Separate Peace
  • In 1999, President Clinton’s National Bioethics Advisory Commission (NBAC) issued a report saying that federal oversight of tissue research was "inadequate" and "ambiguous."
    Rebecca Skloot  --  The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
  • He exhibited ambiguous prudence and awkward daring.
    Victor Hugo  --  Les Miserables
  • The time for ambiguity has passed,asserted Eragon.
    Christopher Paolini  --  Eldest
  • His own uncertainty about his characters might add an appealing touch of ambiguity to his original ending.
    Stephen King  --  The Shining
  • Unlike most mythical flights, which clearly imply triumph, in the attempt if not the success, Solomon’s escape, the insurance man’s jump, and Milkman’s leap are ambiguous, disturbing.
    Toni Morrison  --  Song of Solomon
  • It is all mirage—all ambiguous.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky  --  Crime and Punishment
  • How does he feel, pimping in this ambiguous way for the Commander?
    Margaret Atwood  --  The Handmaid’s Tale
  • But the phrase "living in the present" is ambiguous.
    C.S. Lewis  --  The Screwtape Letters
  • He would have pardoned me, he would certainly have pardoned me, if I had not said anything to him about that cursed baldric—in ambiguous words, it is true, but rather drolly ambiguous.
    Alexandre Dumas  --  The Three Musketeers
  • An author cannot of course remain wholly unaffected by his experience, but the ways in which a story-germ uses the soil of experience are extremely complex, and attempts to define the process are at best guesses from evidence that is inadequate and ambiguous.
    J.R.R. Tolkien  --  The Fellowship of the Ring
  • Everything else is ambiguous.
    David Guterson  --  Snow Falling on Cedars
  • There was no ambiguity in his presentation.
    Malcolm Gladwell  --  The Tipping Point
  • Before meeting Yossarian, there was no one in the group with whom he felt at ease, and he was hardly at ease with Yossarian, whose frequent rash and insubordinate outbursts kept him almost constantly on edge and in an ambiguous state of enjoyable trepidation.
    Joseph Heller  --  Catch-22
  • Charmolue hesitated for a moment with the ambiguous grimace of a poet in search of a rhyme.
    Victor Hugo  --  The Hunchback of Notre Dame
  • And then again, your sentence is ambiguous to say the least of it.
    T. H. White  --  The Once and Future King
  • Social scientists refer to the state of being between worlds as liminality, which the anthropologist Victor Turner described as the state in which a person "becomes ambiguous, neither here nor there, betwixt and between all fixed points of classification; he passes through a symbolic domain that has few or none of the attributes of his past or coming state."
    Warren St. John  --  Outcasts United
  • Well, life is too full of evasions and ambiguities, I think.
    Tennessee Williams  --  A Streetcar Named Desire
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Associated words [difficulty]:   ambiguous [2]
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Most commonly used in these subjects:   Public Policy & Politics, Business, Human Behavior, Logic & Reasoning
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