ambiguity


ambiguity
ambiguity, equivocation, tergiversation, double entendre are comparable when they denote expression or, more often, an expression, capable of more than one interpretation.
Ambiguity is referable to an expression that admits of two or sometimes more interpretations; commonly, however, it suggests the use of a word or phrase rather than a construction that may be taken in either of two senses
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where no ambiguity arises, the word polygon may be used to refer either to the broken line, or to the part of the plane enclosed by it— R. R. Smith

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Ambiguity does not in itself suggest intentional lack of explicitness; when that idea is to be conveyed or when an attempt to mislead or an indifference to accuracy in statement is to be suggested, equivocation is the preferable word
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the first cardinal sin from the logician’s standpoint is equivocation. Thus Hobbes has declared that “in all discourses wherein one man pretends to instruct or convince another, he should use the same word constantly in the same sense”— Philip Wheelwright

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equivocation is halfway to lying— Penn

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But equivocation may imply that the writer or speaker is himself confused.
Tergiversation stresses a shifting of senses, especially of a word or words important to an argument. It implies evasion and looseness of thought; more specifically it connotes intentional subterfuge and often a low standard of intellectual honesty
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humanism depends very heavily, I believe, upon the tergiversations of the word human; and in general, upon implying clear and distinct philosophic ideas which are never there— T. S. Eliot

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Double entendre designates an ambiguity which invites or allows a twofold meaning, one sense being a cover for a subtle implication, especially a stinging or an indelicate implication
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sometimes with these parliamentary comedies, the humor lay in a kind of double entendre, using the phrase in an innocent sense— Manchester Guardian

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bedroom farce with many of the double entendres . . . that go with that form of entertainment— McCarten

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Antonyms: lucidity: explicitness
Contrasted words: clearness, perspicuousness (see corresponding adjectives at CLEAR): definiteness, specificity, expressness (see corresponding adjectives at EXPLICIT)

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • ambiguity — 1. Ambiguity in language denotes the possibility of more than one meaning being understood from what is heard or read. Intentional ambiguity can be effective, for example as a literary device or in advertising. Our concern here is with… …   Modern English usage

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  • ambiguity — UK US /ˌæmbɪˈgjuːəti/ noun [C or U] (plural ambiguities) ► a situation in which something has more than one possible meaning and may therefore cause confusion, or an example of this: »We wish to remove any ambiguity concerning our demands. »There …   Financial and business terms

  • Ambiguity — Am bi*gu i*ty, n.; pl. {Ambiguities}. [L. ambiguitas, fr. ambiguus: cf. F. ambiguit[ e].] The quality or state of being ambiguous; doubtfulness or uncertainty, particularly as to the signification of language, arising from its admitting of more… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • ambiguity — (n.) c.1400, uncertainty, doubt, also capability of having two meanings, from M.L. ambiguitatem (nom. ambiguitas) double meaning, noun of state from ambiguus (see AMBIGUOUS (Cf. ambiguous)) …   Etymology dictionary

  • ambiguity — [n] uncertainty of meaning doubleentendre, double meaning, doubt, doubtfulness, dubiety, dubiousness, enigma, equivocacy, equivocality, equivocation, incertitude, inconclusiveness, indefiniteness, indeterminateness, obscurity, puzzle,… …   New thesaurus

  • ambiguity — ► NOUN (pl. ambiguities) ▪ uncertain or inexact meaning …   English terms dictionary

  • ambiguity — [am΄bə gyo͞o′ə tē] n. [ME ambiguite < L ambiguitas] 1. the quality or state of being ambiguous 2. pl. ambiguities an ambiguous word, statement, etc …   English World dictionary

  • Ambiguity — Sir John Tenniel s illustration of the Caterpillar for Lewis Carroll s Alice s Adventures in Wonderland is noted for its ambiguous central figure, whose head can be viewed as being a human male s face with a pointed nose and pointy chin or being… …   Wikipedia


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