The Meaning of Ambition: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of ambition? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word ambition, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word ambition mean?

According to Collins English Dictionary and the American Heritage Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, the word ambition is a noun that means an inordinate desire, excessive desire or preferment for something. The word ambition is three syllables – am-bi-tion, and the pronunciation of ambition is æmˈbɪʃən. Archaically, this word can be used as a verb to mean to covet or seek after, such as Pausanias, who was ambitioning the sovereignty of Greece, bargaining with Xerxes for his daughter in marriage.

Many different languages also contain words that mean ambition. You may find that some of these words look and sound similar to each other. This is likely because they are of a similar origin. Usually, cognates are formed when two words have a common ancestor such as Latin or Greek. Cognates are words that look, sound, and mean something similar across languages. This list of translations of ambition is provided by Word Sense.

  •  Armenian: փառասիրություն‎
  •  Maori: awhero‎
  •  Finnish: kunnianhimo‎ (to distinguish)
  •  Japanese: 野望‎ (やぼう, yabō), 野心‎ (やしん, yashin)
  •  Persian: اشتیاق‎ (eštiyāgh), خواهش‎ (xwāheš)
  •  Indonesian: ambisi‎
  •  Mandarin: 奢望‎ (shēwàng), 抱負‎, 抱负‎ (bàofù)
  •  Czech: ctižádost‎ (fem.), ambice‎ (fem. pl.)
  •  Greek: φιλοδοξία‎
  •  Spanish: ambición‎ (fem.)
  •  Russian: амби́ция‎ (fem.)
  •  Portuguese: ambição‎ (fem.)

What is the origin of the word ambition?

According to Etymonline, the word ambition has been used since c14 Middle English ambicioun in the Late Middle Ages. This word comes from the Old French ambition and Anglo-French ambicion, borrowed from Latin ambitiōn, from Latin ambitiō, Latin ambitus, from ambiō and the Latin word ambīre to go round.

How can the word ambition be used in a sentence?

The word ambition can be used in many different sentences in natural sounding English. Using words in a sentence is a great way to memorize their definition. You can also try to make flashcards or quizzes for yourself to test your knowledge of definitions. Learning new words is a great way to make yourself sound smarter and to improve your vocabulary. Try using this word of the day in a sentence today. Below are several examples of ambition.

It took a lot of ambition for the citizens to start their own business. The private man created a helicopter repair business as was the object of an ardent desire for him. He also had the actual possession of the necessary to succeed at this business. 

She had the single goal and ambition of literary fame. She attended Princeton University to try and achieve the object of this desire. She had pride and arrogance in her talents, but she would stop at nothing to achieve her goals. It was not greed or vainglory, but admirable desire and fierce ambition.

He had much ambition to be successful in personal advancement but he did not know what field. He could be a firefighter, jet pilot, join the circus, run for public office as one of manny modern candidates – anything and everything was his object of ambition. 

What are synonyms and antonyms of ambition?

There are many different words that are equivalent to the word ambition. Synonyms are words and phrases that have the same or a similar definition as another word or phrase. Synonyms are a useful English language tool because they can help you to avoid repeating the same word over and over again while simultaneously expanding your vocabulary. This list of synonyms for the word ambition is provided by Power Thesaurus

  •  commitment
  •  itch
  •  function
  •  point
  •  yearning
  •  effort
  •  intent
  •  vitality
  •  eagerness
  •  push
  •  zip
  •  appetite
  •  hankering
  •  inventiveness
  •  vigor
  •  target
  •  view
  •  scheme
  •  motive
  •  castles in air
  •  resolve
  •  resolution
  •  mark
  •  aspirations
  •  energy
  •  aggressiveness
  •  moxie
  •  ingenuity
  •  consideration
  •  pie in the sky
  •  end in view
  •  aspiration
  •  drive
  •  aims
  •  design
  •  plan
  •  thirst
  •  dynamism
  •  dreams
  •  resourcefulness
  •  why and wherefore
  •  idea
  •  dedication
  •  ambitious
  •  lust
  •  creativity
  •  drives
  •  air castle
  •  emulation
  •  expectation
  •  daydream
  •  hope
  •  longing
  •  sense of purpose
  •  fancy
  •  purpose
  •  hunger
  •  ambitious person
  •  pipe dream
  •  single-mindedness
  •  conviction
  •  keenness
  •  initiative
  •  striving
  •  intention
  •  destination
  •  avidity
  •  goal
  •  spirit
  •  vision
  •  industry
  •  thought
  •  gumption
  •  wish
  •  objective
  •  hopes
  •  enterprise
  •  ulterior motive
  •  desire
  •  duty
  •  enthusiasm
  •  ambitiousness
  •  pretension
  •  inclination
  •  zeal
  •  dream
  •  object
  •  determination
  •  get-up-and-go
  •  aim
  •  fantasy
  •  craving
  •  urge
  •  meaning
  •  pep
  •  wishes
  •  motivation
  •  ideal
  •  end
  •  ground zero

There are also a number of words that mean the opposite of the word ambition. These opposite words are known as antonyms, which are words and phrases that have the opposite definitions as another word or phrase. Antonyms are also a useful tool to expand a person’s vocabulary. This list of antonyms for the word ambition is also provided by Power Thesaurus

  •  indifference
  •  idler
  •  high roller
  •  fainéant
  •  evader
  •  disorder
  •  laziness
  •  junketeer
  •  beachcomber
  •  goof-off
  •  actuality
  •  clinger
  •  couch-potato
  •  avoider
  •  couch potato
  •  bad lot
  •  cyberslacker
  •  distraction
  •  barnacle
  •  dodger
  •  goldbricker
  •  free rider
  •  disregard
  •  layabout
  •  disorientation
  •  duck-shover
  •  absent-mindedness
  •  gold brick
  •  disinterest
  •  chav
  •  hedonist
  •  indirection
  •  disarray
  •  inattentiveness
  •  chaos
  •  lack of concern
  •  lazy bum
  •  foot-dragger
  •  sluggishness
  •  apathy
  •  diffident person
  •  inattention
  •  dawdler
  •  indifferent person
  •  heedlessness
  •  habitual absentee
  •  incompetent
  •  hanger-on
  •  inactive person
  •  laggard
  •  debtor
  •  confusion
  •  bystander
  •  inactivity
  •  humble person
  •  freeloader
  •  faineant
  •  bum
  •  disinterested person
  •  disorderliness
  •  cadger
  •  fritterer
  •  do-nothing
  •  goldbrick
  •  extortioner
  •  hog
  •  derelict
  •  black sheep
  •  ambitionless person
  •  good-for-nothing
  •  deadbeat
  •  abstraction
  •  laxness
  •  lack of focus
  •  disorganization
  •  distractedness
  •  drone
  •  inconsideration
  •  bloodsucker
  •  lardass
  •  dragger
  •  clock-watcher
  •  lackadaisical person
  •  delayer
  •  crawler
  •  clock watcher
  •  disorganisation
  •  confoundment
  •  dallier
  •  absentee
  •  sloth
  •  bludger
  •  daydreamer
  •  backwardness
  •  anguish
  •  laid-back person
  •  dreamer
  •  contentment
  •  dislike
  •  lagger

Overall, the word ambition means an object of desire or type of motivation for a type of achievement, earnest desire, or attainment of superiority like political power. 


  1. ambition: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense 
  2. ambition | Origin and meaning of ambition | Online Etymology Dictionary 
  3. Ambition synonyms – 870 Words and Phrases for Ambition | Power Thesaurus 
  4. Ambition definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary 
  5. Ambition antonyms – 310 Opposites of Ambition | Power Thesaurus