A Word A Day : Ambiguity

Sunday, 20th January 2008 : Today's Word is ...


( Noun )

Pronunciation : àmbi-gyo-utee

1. a situation in which something can be understood in more than one way and it is not clear which meaning is intended

2. an expression or statement that has more than one meaning

3. doubtfulness or uncertainty of meaning or intention


Origin: 1520–30 - L ambiguus, equiv. to ambig(ere) be uncertain


double entendre, double meaning, doubt, doubtfulness, dubiety, dubiousness, enigma, equivocacy, equivocality, equivocation, incertitude, inconclusiveness, indefiniteness, indeterminateness, obscurity, puzzle, tergiversation, uncertainty, unclearness, vagueness


explicitness, lucidity, unambiguity, unequivocalness, certainty, certitude, confidence, faith, trust

Insurance Dictionary:

Language in the insurance policy that can be considered unclear or subject to different interpretations. Under these circumstances, the courts have generally ruled in favor of insured individuals and against insurance companies since insurance policies are deemed to be contracts of adhesion, and also that insurance companies have sufficient legal talent at their disposal to make policy language clear.When language is capable of being understood in more than one way by a reasonable person, ambiguity exists. It is not the use of peculiar words or of common words used in a peculiar sense. Words are ambiguous when their significance is unclear to persons with competent knowledge and skill to understand them.

Contextual Examples:

• The consciousness of good intentions disdains ambiguity.

• He died after a life of alleged moral ambiguity.

• His poems are without the ambiguities of modern poetry.

• We listened to the weather report, but the forecast was ambiguous. We couldn't tell if the day was going to be rainy or sunny.

• The Poem we read in English class was ambiguous. No one had any idea what the poet was trying to say.

Related Words:

ambiguous : Adjective

ambiguities : Noun -Plural

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