Difference Between Ambiguous and Ambivalent

Ambiguous vs Ambivalent

Difference between ambiguous and ambivalent is not hard to understand if you pay attention to the meaning of the two words. Both the terms Ambiguous and Ambivalent are adjectives and some think that they carry the same meaning, but the meanings are different from each other. Ambiguous is a kind of feeling that shows an uncertainty or we can use this term when a person is vague or unsure about something. On the other hand, ambivalent is when a person has two choices and he/she is indecisive as which to choose.

What does Ambiguous mean?

As mentioned above, ambiguous is uncertainty or unclearness over something. The Oxford dictionary defines this term as having more than one meaning. Thus, it is clear that there is unclearness about a particular thing if there is more than one interpretation of the same thing. An ambiguous statement is always subjected to arguments and there can be a variation in meaning depending on the context it is used. Also, ambiguous things are more doubtful and open to debates. One can be ambiguous over a word or a situation or a mathematical equation or any other thing. For example, we can take the word good. If the word occurs alone, its meaning is very unclear. It could be referring to a quality: She is a good girl, a function: This engine is good, as a statement of satisfactory: The food is good, etc. The real meaning can be identified only with the context that it has been used. Moreover, one can be ambiguous about the ending of a movie and also about a person’s behavior in a particular situation, etc. Likewise, ambiguity can be seen where there is no correct or clear answer for something.

What does Ambivalent mean?

Oxford dictionary defines the word ambivalent as having mixed feelings about something. That means a person might be unable to choose between things and there we can see ambivalence nature. If we consider an example, a person can be ambivalent about going to a new job. In this case, he/she may have two choices; either accept the job or not accept it. So, the person might have mixed feelings whether to accept the job or not. In this instance, we can say that he/she as ambivalent about the job. Further, ambivalence can be defined as a state of having several conflicting arguments or beliefs or feelings towards an object. Here, we may see both positive and negative components. However, an ambivalent person can either make a decision or just leave both options away and look for another solution.

Difference Between Ambiguous and Ambivalent

“She is ambivalent about going to a new job.”

What is the difference between Ambiguous and Ambivalent?

When we look at both terms, we see similarities as well as differences. In similar terms, we see that in both cases, there is uncertainty and vagueness over things or people. Nobody has a clear interpretation when they are ambiguous or ambivalent. Also, both function as adjectives in English language.

• When we look at the differences, we can identify that ambiguity may occur over something; it is the uncertainty or unclearness over something, whereas ambivalence is especially the confusion over two things.

• Ambivalent is usually used to describe feelings, relationships or attitudes whereas ambiguous could be related to behavior of people, things and attitudes as well.

• However, depending on the context, we can decide whether to use ambivalent or ambiguous.


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