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

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

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What does the word ambivalent mean?

According to the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language and Collins English Dictionary, ambivalent is an adjective that describes having mixed feelings or the duality of negative feelings and positive feelings about something. Ambivalence is a feeling of uncertainty or neutrality. Many things can be ambivalent, including an ambivalent character, ambivalent contestant, an ambivalent mouse, an ambivalent personality or state of mind, and more. 

Translations of the word ambivalent also exist in many other different languages. You may notice that some of these words look similar or sound the same to the word ambivalent. These cognates are formed when two words are of a similar or the same origin. For example, many different languages derived from Latin and may have words that look or sound similar or the same. This list of translations for the word ambivalent is provided by Word Sense.

  •  Cantonese: 矛盾‎ (maau4 teon5)
  •  Swedish: ambivalent‎, kluven‎
  •  Armenian: հակասական‎, ոչ միանշանակ‎
  •  Italian: ambivalente‎ (masc.) (f)
  •  Bulgarian: двойствен‎, противоречив‎
  •  French: ambivalent‎
  •  Japanese: どっちつかず‎ (docchi-tsukazu)
  •  Turkish: ikircikli‎, ikircimli‎, kararsız‎, mütereddit‎
  •  Hungarian: ambivalens‎
  •  Dutch: ambivalent‎, ambivalente‎
  •  Russian: дво́йственный‎, противоречи́вый‎
  •  German: ambivalent, doppelwertig‎, zwiespältig‎
  •  Mandarin: 矛盾‎ (máodùn)
  •  Portuguese: ambivalente‎ (masc.) (f)
  •  Finnish: ristiriitainen‎
  •  Spanish: ambivalente‎
  •  Ido: ambivalenta‎
  •  Indonesian: ambivalen‎, ragu‎, bimbang‎, ragu-ragu
  •  Czech: ambivalentní‎, rozporuplný‎ (masc.)
  •  Korean: 반대감정이 공존하는‎ (bandaegamjeong-i gongjonhaneun)
  •  Polish: ambiwalentny‎ (masc.)

What is the origin of the word ambivalent?

According to Etymonline, the word ambivalent comes from the German Ambivalenz. This German term was introduced by the Swiss psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler. This comes from the Latin prefix ambi and the Latin valentia. 

What are synonyms and antonyms of the word ambivalent?

There are many different words and phrases that one can use in place of the word ambivalent. These are known as synonyms, which are words and phrases that have the same or a similar definition as another word or phrase. Synonyms are a useful English grammatical device to know because they can help people to avoid repeating themselves while also expanding a person’s vocabulary. This list of synonyms for the word ambivalent is provided by Power Thesaurus.

  •  of two minds
  •  undetermined
  •  equivocal
  •  hesitant
  •  capricious
  •  torn
  •  hemming and hawing
  •  dithering
  •  indefinite
  •  vague
  •  mixed
  •  irresolute
  •  dubious
  •  indecisive
  •  undecided
  •  tentative
  •  iffy
  •  uncertainty
  •  doubtful
  •  wavering
  •  moot
  •  timid
  •  not definite
  •  fickle
  •  in two minds
  •  open to argument
  •  arguable
  •  insecure
  •  debatable
  •  uncommitted
  •  unsure
  •  changeable
  •  borderline
  •  ambiguous
  •  unstable
  •  vacillating
  •  questionable
  •  unsettled
  •  contradictory
  •  unresolved
  •  shilly-shallying
  •  not sure
  •  in the middle
  •  two-edged
  •  unclear
  •  wishy-washy
  •  hesitating
  •  on the fence
  •  inconclusive
  •  blowing hot and cold

There are also many words and phrases that have the opposite meaning of the word ambivalent. These are called antonyms. Antonyms are also a useful English grammar device to know because they can help expand your vocabulary and knowledge of the English language. This list of antonyms for the word ambivalent is also provided by Power Thesaurus

  •  actual
  •  authentic
  •  fixated
  •  confident of
  •  assenting
  •  identical
  •  settled
  •  hyperfocused
  •  fanatical
  •  persistent
  •  cowardly
  •  agreeing
  •  resolved
  •  accurate
  •  firm
  •  relentless
  •  blatant
  •  resolute
  •  sustained
  •  compatible
  •  beyond a shadow of a doubt
  •  indefatigable
  •  full speed ahead
  •  inflexible
  •  sure
  •  not if but when
  •  bow-wow
  •  same
  •  inexorable
  •  realistic
  •  steady
  •  fixed
  •  black and white
  •  actuarial
  •  conclusive
  •  definite
  •  like the clappers
  •  certain
  •  strong
  •  obsessive
  •  confident
  •  obsessed
  •  desperate
  •  inevitable
  •  tireless
  •  ensured
  •  loud
  •  positive
  •  steadfast
  •  decided

How can the word ambivalent be used in a sentence?

There are many ways in which the word ambivalent can be used in a sentence in the English language. Using words in a sentence is a great way to learn their definitions. You can also try making flashcards or a quiz to test your knowledge of the definitions of different English words. You should try to use this new word of the day in a sentence today! Below are several different examples of how you can use the word ambivalent in an English language sentence to help get you started.

The Washington Post published an article with clever writing in October stating their ambivalent feelings toward TikTok’s tortilla trend,  concept of snack mixes and nut blends, and the bastardization of the quesadilla.

The AIDS activist felt ambivalent about the merit award she was receiving for her achievements at Princeton University. She felt a sense of sorrow that her friends who had passed could no longer share their perspectives.

While they would retry his open-brain surgery in July to attempt success, he felt ambivalent about the whole thing. 

The social butterfly thought her new job as a full-time singing mermaid at Walt Disney World Orlando would be extra fun – she had worked there as a part-time college student – but after starting, she began to feel ambivalent. Was this what she wanted her career to be?

He sat on the bench, ambivalent about whether to move to Canada to be with his girlfriend or stay in the United States with his family. He loved her, but had never left his home town before.

The Miss America and Miss Florida Pageant contestant was ambivalent about winning the competition, but her motivations were to find friendship in the other contestants. 

Overall, the word ambivalent means contradictory feelings or opposite feelings both felt at once, or a fluctuation in a state of uncertainty. One may have feelings of ambivalence or contradictory attitudes when weighing the negative aspects of a situation and their attraction to it. This has different possible meanings in a person’s mind – we always try to avoid the greatest discomfort, but sometimes we are required to take a risk.


  1. Ambivalent definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary 
  2. Ambivalent | Word Sense 
  3. Ambivalent synonyms – 380 Words and Phrases for Ambivalent | Power Thesaurus 
  4. Ambivalent antonyms – 115 Opposites of Ambivalent | Power Thesaurus 
  5. ambivalence | Origin and meaning of ambivalence | Online Etymology Dictionary