ambivalent


ambivalent
ambivalent, ambiguous
The terms ambivalent and ambivalence are first recorded in about 1916 in the context of psychology, and in particular the Jungian notion of ‘the coexistence in one person of contradictory emotions or attitudes towards a person or thing’ (OED). C. S. Lewis distanced himself somewhat from using ambivalent when he said that ‘Death is…what some modern people would call “ambivalent”. It is Satan's great weapon and God's great weapon’. Ambivalent applies to feelings and attitudes, whereas ambiguous refers to more concrete things such as statements and events and their meanings: (ambivalent)

• This sad state of affairs may be attributed to feckless parents or to a society which projects its standards and values in such an ambivalent way —H. Pluckrose, 1987

• Women can be extremely ambivalent about their own ambition and aggression at work —She, 1989

• Examination of what is entailed and what is expected have produced ambivalent conclusions —State of Prisons, 1991

• (ambiguous) This remark may in isolation be ambiguous —law report, BrE 2003 [OEC]

• Reform is an ambiguous word —Business Week Magazine, 2003.

In the following sentence, ambivalent would be the better choice:

• Booksellers are feeling ambiguous about marking or commemorating the anniversary of the attacks of September 11 —weblog, AmE 2002 [OEC].

Ambivalently is also found, often where ambiguously would be more suitable: e.g.

• The people who inhabit Gormenghast, ambivalently described as ‘figures’ and ‘shapes’, are poised between the two meanings —M. H. Short et al., 1987.


Modern English usage. 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • ambivalent — ambivalent, ente [ ɑ̃bivalɑ̃, ɑ̃t ] adj. • 1924; all. ambivalent ♦ Psychol. Qui comporte deux valeurs contraires. ⇒ double. Un comportement ambivalent. ● ambivalent, ambivalente adjectif (allemand ambivalent) Qui présente une ambivalence. ●… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • ambivalent — AMBIVALÉNT, Ă, ambivalenţi, te, adj. Cu ambivalenţă. – Din fr. ambivalent. Trimis de ana zecheru, 13.09.2007. Sursa: DEX 98  ambivalént adj. m., pl. ambivalénţi; f. sg. ambivaléntă, pl. ambiva …   Dicționar Român

  • ambivalent — Adj zwiespältig per. Wortschatz fach. (20. Jh.) Neoklassische Bildung. Zuerst Ambivalenz von E. Bleuler 1911 gebildet für das Nebeneinander von entgegengesetzten Gefühlen, in Analogie zu Äquivalenz Gleichwertigkeit (äquivalent), zu l. valēns (… …   Etymologisches Wörterbuch der deutschen sprache

  • ambivalent — Adj. (Aufbaustufe) in sich widersprüchlich, mehrdeutig Synonyme: doppeldeutig, doppelsinnig, zwiespältig, paradox (geh.) Beispiel: Ihre Einstellung dazu ist ambivalent. Kollokation: ambivalent reagieren …   Extremes Deutsch

  • ambivalent — adj. 1. 1 undecided as to whether or not to take a proposed course of action; having feelings both for and against the proposed action. Syn: on the fence(predicate), suspensive, uncertain [WordNet 1.5] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • ambivalent — ambivalent. См. амбивалентный. (Источник: «Англо русский толковый словарь генетических терминов». Арефьев В.А., Лисовенко Л.А., Москва: Изд во ВНИРО, 1995 г.) …   Молекулярная биология и генетика. Толковый словарь.

  • ambivalent — index ambiguous, equivocal, evasive, oblique (evasive) Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • ambivalent — (adj.) 1916, originally a term in psychology; back formation from AMBIVALENCE (Cf. ambivalence). In general use by 1929 …   Etymology dictionary

  • ambivalent — [adj] conflicting clashing, contradictory, debatable, doubtful, equivocal, fluctuating, hesitant, inconclusive, irresolute, mixed, opposed, uncertain, undecided, unresolved, unsure, vacillating, warring, wavering; concepts 534,564 Ant. certain,… …   New thesaurus

  • ambivalent — ► ADJECTIVE ▪ having mixed feelings or contradictory ideas about something or someone. DERIVATIVES ambivalence noun ambivalently adverb. ORIGIN from Latin ambi on both sides + valere be worth …   English terms dictionary