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ambiguity

Definitions

  • WordNet 3.6
    • n ambiguity unclearness by virtue of having more than one meaning
    • n ambiguity an expression whose meaning cannot be determined from its context
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • n Ambiguity The quality or state of being ambiguous; doubtfulness or uncertainty, particularly as to the signification of language, arising from its admitting of more than one meaning; an equivocal word or expression. "No shadow of ambiguity can rest upon the course to be pursued.""The words are of single signification, without any ambiguity ."
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Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n ambiguity The state of being ambiguous; doubtfulness or uncertainty, particularly of signification.
    • n ambiguity An equivocal or ambiguous expression.
    • ***
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • n Ambiguity uncertainty or dubiousness of meaning—also Ambig′uousness
    • ***

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. ambiguitas, fr. ambiguus,: cf. F. ambiguité,
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
L. ambiguusambigĕre, to go about—ambi, about, agĕre, to drive.

Usage

In literature:

Of course he would see to it that not a shadow of ambiguousness was allowed to rest on such a name.
"Christopher and Columbus" by Countess Elizabeth Von Arnim
Number four, however, is ambiguous.
"The Road" by Jack London
We had interpreted the ambiguous telegram in all other ways than this.
"Jaffery" by William J. Locke
The despotism of the Pythian decisions was, however, tempered by their ambiguity.
"Ten Great Religions" by James Freeman Clarke
At length the wind subsided, and these ambiguous noises abated, and I, fatigued, dropped into a quiet sleep.
"Uncle Silas" by J. S. LeFanu
No form of ambiguity known to Fergusson would serve to extricate him from a direct reply.
"The Stowmarket Mystery" by Louis Tracy
Reference would also be made to the ambiguous saving of powers contained in the 37th section of the Irish Government Act.
"England's Case Against Home Rule" by Albert Venn Dicey
Finally an incident, though it did not decide these points, brought their ambiguity nearer to the surface.
"The Silent Places" by Steward Edward White
In the autumn of 1581 the position was an ambiguous one.
"History of Holland" by George Edmundson
These terms being once well-defined, will, I hope, in their use enable me to avoid much periphrasis and ambiguity of expression.
"Experimental Researches in Electricity, Volume 1" by Michael Faraday
The ambiguities and hesitations of theory, down to our own day, are not all artificial or introduced gratuitously by sophists.
"The Life of Reason" by George Santayana
They would commonly produce a troublesome ambiguity, as the Lord's house may be the house of Lords, or the house of a Lord.
"A Grammar of the English Tongue" by Samuel Johnson
The Manchester society has but an ambiguous existence; and that of Exeter expired in its birth.
"Curiosities of Literature, Vol. II (of 3)" by Isaac Disraeli
This more or less ambiguous term has been applied to various diseases affecting the structures which make up the coffin joint.
"Lameness of the Horse" by John Victor Lacroix
Even then he seems to have been rather ambiguous in his explanations.
"Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 158, February 18th, 1920" by Various
Wagner's language is ambiguous, and probably he intended his meaning to be the same.
"Richard Wagner" by John F. Runciman
Milton tells us, without the least ambiguity, what a spectator of these marvellous occurrences would have witnessed.
"Lectures and Essays" by Thomas Henry Huxley
I was deeply impressed with the ambiguousness which would necessarily rest upon my motives, and the scrutiny to which they would be subjected.
"Arthur Mervyn" by Charles Brockden Brown
That isn't as ambiguous as it sounds.
"From the Housetops" by George Barr McCutcheon
Language is usually ambiguous and it is rash to make general assertions as to its meanings.
"The Concept of Nature" by Alfred North Whitehead
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In poetry:

O unrolling,
tape of ambiguous length
on which is written the mystery
of everything curly.
"Cardinal Ideograms" by May Swenson
He frequently went on a spree;
But in his wildest revelry,
On this especial subject he
Betrayed no ambiguity.
"A Moral Vindicator" by Francis Bret Harte
Moscow greeted us in darkness
Already lined with silver light,
As we emerged from underground,
Out of the ambiguity of night.
"On Early Trains" by Boris Pasternak
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:

In our collective memory of the Holocaust, Kristallnacht occupies a central but ambiguous place.
Exploiting such loopholes, which can arise through drafting errors and ambiguities, is entirely legal.
In an environment of extreme ambiguity, hospital and health system board members need a wealth of diverse experience and skills to navigate a business environment as uncertain as any healthcare has ever seen.
) The Austin artist has a history of creating works that are intentionally ambiguous, based off of slippery memories of boating trips, his childhood home, Vermont stays and whatever else is buried there.
People cannot be led ambiguously, even if in politics a specious clarity is also hazardous.
They're about four months old, a foot long, and might represent the salvation — albeit an uncertain, ambiguous salvation — of that magnificent, desperately threatened creature.
'The English Bride ' calls for a tolerance of ambiguity.
1969 145 minutes Rated R. Sam Peckinpah's notorious western depicted an outlaw gang, made obsolete by encroaching civilization, in its last burst of violent, ambiguous glory.
Still waiting for that 'Ambiguously Gay Duo' playset.
"We want to make shows that are smart, layered, morally ambiguous and complex," says Barnett, summing up her channel 's scripted initiative.
Chuck Hagel's ambiguous stance on dealing with Iran.
The US must avoid ambiguity and side more publicly with its democratic ally, Japan, and against bullying by China.
Finally, conservatives tend to be more anxious in situations in which there is ambiguity than liberals.
Court's consideration of extrinsic evidence of schedule changes did not violate parol evidence rule, as plentitude of contract provisions as to schedule changes and delays rendered contract ambiguous.
Chuck Hagel's ambiguous stance on dealing with Iran.
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In science:

In this case we say that there is an overlap ambiguity.
Number Operator Algebras
Remark : It is always possible to avoid inclusion ambiguities in a reduction system (see [Berg] or [Bes1]).
Number Operator Algebras
Let us call S the confluent reduction system that we get from S0 by the noncommutative Buchberger algorithm (i.e. we inductively reduce every ambiguity.
Number Operator Algebras
These “events” are the focal point of quantum theory: they are happenings that in the Copenhagen approach are ambiguously associated both with the “measuring devices” and with increments in the knowledge of the observers who are examining these devices.
Quantum theory and the role of mind in nature
This ambiguity can be removed by two-particle correlations, where Tf .o. and hvT i are correlated in the opposite way .
Remarks on the extraction of freeze-out parameters
We will use ‘arrival-time surface’ to refer to both τ (θ ) and t(θ ), in places where this causes no ambiguity.
Beware the Non-uniqueness of Einstein Rings
However, this anomalous force can be removed by a parameter transformation, which introduces ambiguities in defining the 4D proper time.
Null Geodesics in Five Dimensional Manifolds
The ambiguity in the choice of parameterization results in multiple expressions for the particle mass, which in general vary along the particle’s worldline.
Null Geodesics in Five Dimensional Manifolds
Our analysis shows that condition (25) does not remove completely the gauge ambiguity.
On SU(2) Yang-Mills Theory and the Maximal Abelian Gauge
Time in Quantum Mechanics plays a rather ambiguous role.
Quantum Zeno-like effect due to competing decoherence mechanisms
In the absence of polarization measurement of a lepton pair from J/ψ, however, the relative phases of the spin amplitudes still have a twofold ambiguity.
Final-state interaction and s-quark helicity conservation in B -> J/psi K*
Since the experiment does not measure polarization of the lepton pair from J/ψ, there is a twofold ambiguity left in the relative strong phases of three spin amplitudes.
Final-state interaction and s-quark helicity conservation in B -> J/psi K*
Therefore it is important to resolve this ambiguity in order to test robustness of factorization and to understand the nature of FSI in general.
Final-state interaction and s-quark helicity conservation in B -> J/psi K*
Though final resolution of the ambiguity requires lepton polarization measurement in some future, measurement of the spin amplitudes of these decay will help us to understand the FSI better.
Final-state interaction and s-quark helicity conservation in B -> J/psi K*
We have examined the twofold ambiguity in determination of the spin amplitudes of B → J/ψK ∗ .
Final-state interaction and s-quark helicity conservation in B -> J/psi K*
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