ambiguous

Look to the adjective ambiguous when you need to describe something that's open to more than one interpretation, like the headline "Squad helps dog bite victim."

Newspaper headlines can be unintentionally funny when they're ambiguous. In "Squad helps dog bite victim," is the squad helping a victim of a dog bite or helping a dog bite a victim? The ambi- prefix means "both ways," while the guous part is from the Latin verb agere, "to lead or drive." Thus an ambiguous sentence or situation drives us in two different directions at once. The accent is on the second syllable, "big," which you can remember since something that's ambiguous can lead to big misunderstandings.

DEFINITIONS OF: ambiguous

1

adj having more than one possible meaning

ambiguous words”
“frustrated by ambiguous instructions, the parents were unable to assemble the toy”
Synonyms
double-barreled, double-barrelled
having two purposes; twofold
double-edged
capable of being interpreted in two usually contradictory ways
enigmatic, oracular
resembling an oracle in obscurity of thought
left-handed
ironically ambiguous
multi-valued, multivalent
having many values, meanings, or appeals
polysemantic, polysemous
of words; having many meanings
uncertain
ambiguous (especially in the negative)
unclear
not clear to the mind
equivocal
open to two or more interpretations; or of uncertain nature or significance; or (often) intended to mislead
Antonyms:
unambiguous
having or exhibiting a single clearly defined meaning
monosemous
having only one meaning
clear
readily apparent to the mind
unambiguous, unequivocal, univocal
admitting of no doubt or misunderstanding; having only one meaning or interpretation and leading to only one conclusion
show more antonyms...

adj open to two or more interpretations; or of uncertain nature or significance; or (often) intended to mislead

“the polling had a complex and equivocal (or ambiguous) message for potential female candidates”
Synonyms:
equivocal
double, forked
having two meanings with intent to deceive
evasive
deliberately vague or ambiguous
indeterminate
of uncertain or ambiguous nature
Antonyms:
unambiguous, unequivocal, univocal
admitting of no doubt or misunderstanding; having only one meaning or interpretation and leading to only one conclusion
unambiguous
having or exhibiting a single clearly defined meaning
absolute
expressing finality with no implication of possible change
straightforward
free from ambiguity
unquestionable
not open to question
show more antonyms...

adj having no intrinsic or objective meaning; not organized in conventional patterns

“an ambiguous situation with no frame of reference”
ambiguous inkblots”
Synonyms
unstructured
lacking definite structure or organization
WORD FAMILY
USAGE EXAMPLES