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

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

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What does the word vague mean?

According to the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language and Collins English Dictionary, the word vague is an adjective that means unclear or not explicit. Something that is vague lacks understanding, has a lack of clear perception, has an indefinite way about it, is of an obscure origin, an obscure turn of phrase,  has a lack of precision and clear thinking, has a lack of precise meaning, does not have a specific date, or is an undefined term. The pronunciation of vague is veɪɡ. 

Many things can be vague, including vague shapes, a vague outline, vague promises, a vague rumor, vague murmurs, a vague understanding, a vague stare, a vague rumour, the vaguest idea, a vague premonition of disaster, a vague lack of precision, the vague hint of a thickening waistline, vague uneasiness, the vague outline of a building, a vague impression, a vague person, a vague date of his birth, a vague term of abuse, vague government’s communication, a vague tip-reimbursement policy, a vague way of doing things, vague early warning signals, a vague sense of uneasiness, the vague outline of a plane, vague symptoms of Coronavirus, vague feelings of sadness when thinking about the wispy memories of childhood, vague obscure battles of his own spirit, a vague undefined sense of excitement, vague shadowy figures, a vague gloom or faint recollection, a vague dim figure, an undefined authority, and more. 

Different languages around the world use words that mean vague. In looking at this list of translations of vague from Word Sense, you may notice that a lot of these look and sound similar to the word vague. These are called cognates, which are often formed when two words have the same root or language of origin. 

  •  Polish: niejasny‎ (masc.)
  •  Spanish: vago‎, impreciso‎
  •  Czech: vágní‎
  •  Bulgarian: неясен‎ (nejasen)
  •  Esperanto: svaga‎
  •  French: vague‎
  •  Greek: ασαφής‎ (masc.), αόριστος‎ (masc.)
  •  Turkish: anlaşılmaz‎, belirsiz‎, bulanık‎, karanlık‎, muğlak‎, (Ottoman) müphem‎, şüpheli‎, üstü kapalı‎
  •  Swedish: vag‎, oklar‎
  •  Portuguese: vago‎ (masc.)
  •  Finnish: epämääräinen‎, ympäripyöreä‎
  •  Dutch: vaag‎
  •  Catalan: vague‎
  •  Macedonian: нејасен‎, неодреден‎, магловит‎
  •  Russian: нея́сный‎, нечёткий‎, неопределённый‎, расплы́вчатый‎
  •  German: nebelhaft‎, schwach‎, unklar‎, undeutlich‎, ungenau‎, ungewiss‎, vage‎, verschwommen‎
  •  Japanese: 曖昧‎ (aimai), 漠然‎
  •  Italian: vago‎
  •  Hebrew: עמום‎ (‘amum), מעורפל‎ (me‘urpal), לא ברור‎ (lo barur)
  •  Mandarin: 模糊‎ (móhu), 糢糊‎ (móhu)

What is the origin of the word vague?

According to Etymonline, the word vague has been used since c16 and comes from the  Old French vague, Latin vagus, and Proto-Indo-European roots huog-o. This is a cognate with the Old Norse vakka, Old High German wankon, Old High German winkan, and Old English wincian. One can add the suffixes ness and ly to form the forms of speech vagueness (n.) and vaguely (adv.) 

How can the word vague be used in a sentence?

The word vague can be used in many different sentences in the English language. Using words in a sentence is a great way to memorize their definitions. You can also try making flashcards or quizzes to test your knowledge of the definitions of many different words. Try using this word of the day in a sentence today. You never know, it might become one of your new favorites. Below are a couple of examples of vague to get you started.

It was vague when the 42-year-old runner Diedrich would race again. Spokeswoman Rena Lunak said it could be in late March or early April with a wink. 

He began to wander around the home, pondering the vague mysteries of science and descriptions of human behavior. 

The cities software companies were vague about the hacking from the guest. Cisco said there was nothing to worry about, but the evidence was staggering. 

The student from Princeton University was vague about his impulse decision to light the frat house on fire. 

What are synonyms and antonyms of the word vague?

There are a number of different words that a person can choose to use in place of the word vague. These equivalent words are called synonyms, which are words and phrases that have the same meaning or definition as another given word or phrase. Learning synonyms is a great way to easily expand your English language vocabulary and help you avoid repeating yourself when writing or speaking. The below list of synonyms for the word vague is provided by Power Thesaurus

  •  indistinguishable
  •  evasive
  •  obscure
  •  doubtful
  •  weak
  •  unspecific
  •  fuzzy
  •  ill-defined
  •  blurred
  •  nebulous
  •  inattentive
  •  indeterminate
  •  undefinable
  •  dim
  •  dreamy
  •  unspecified
  •  mysterious
  •  indecisive
  •  imperceptible
  •  dull
  •  forgetful
  •  unsure
  •  indefinite
  •  foggy
  •  non-specific
  •  debatable
  •  wispy
  •  faint
  •  vagueness
  •  shady
  •  unclear
  •  cloudy
  •  confused
  •  distrait
  •  indefinable
  •  formless
  •  misty
  •  blurry
  •  rough
  •  woolly
  •  uncertain
  •  undecided
  •  unintelligible
  •  fog
  •  pale
  •  unresolved
  •  undetermined
  •  shapeless
  •  concealed
  •  murky
  •  inexact
  •  abstruse
  •  intangible
  •  generalized
  •  cryptic
  •  dubious
  •  absentminded
  •  enigmatic
  •  undefined
  •  arguable
  •  distracted
  •  opaque
  •  out of focus
  •  loose
  •  feeble
  •  indiscernible
  •  equivocal
  •  general
  •  sketchy
  •  hidden
  •  shadowy
  •  slight
  •  tenebrous
  •  unsettled
  •  imprecise
  •  hazy
  •  clouded
  •  elusive
  •  questionable
  •  unfocused
  •  impalpable
  •  faraway
  •  ballpark
  •  ambivalent
  •  dark
  •  amorphous
  •  incomplete
  •  inexplicit
  •  inconclusive
  •  indistinct
  •  approximate
  •  nonspecific
  •  unfixed
  •  inaccurate
  •  ambiguous
  •  soft
  •  bleary
  •  unknown
  •  broad
  •  abstracted
  •  distant

There are also plenty of different words that have the opposite meaning of the word vague. These opposite words are called antonyms, which are another great, quick and easy way to expand your English language vocabulary. This list of antonyms is also provided by Power Thesaurus.

  •  clear-cut
  •  distinct
  •  particular
  •  certain
  •  unequivocal
  •  firm
  •  plain
  •  decided
  •  transparent
  •  definitive
  •  detail-oriented
  •  detailed
  •  fairly obvious
  •  special
  •  explicit
  •  comprehensible
  •  black and white
  •  defined
  •  apparent
  •  strong
  •  easy as pie
  •  Clarity 
  •  unambiguous
  •  definite
  •  categorical
  •  precise
  •  audible
  •  alert
  •  express
  •  fun
  •  become focus
  •  obvious
  •  specific
  •  accurate
  •  perspicuous
  •  factual
  •  become the focus
  •  recognisably different
  •  concrete
  •  actual
  •  determinate
  •  clear
  •  demonstrable
  •  focused
  •  assured
  •  evident
  •  direct
  •  exact
  •  sure
  •  straightforward
  •  crystal clear

Overall, the word vague means undefined or unclear. This word is an adjective.


  1. vague: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense 
  2. Vague synonyms – 2 024 Words and Phrases for Vague | Power Thesaurus 
  3. Vague | Etymonline
  4. Vague antonyms – 1 322 Opposites of Vague | Power Thesaurus 
  5. Vague definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary