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From German Ambivalenz (simultaneous conflicting feelings), from Latin ambo (both) and valentia (strength), from the verb valere (to be strong) (see valiant). The German term was coined by Swiss psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler in 1910; by 1929, it had taken on a broader literary and general sense.



ambivalence (countable and uncountable, plural ambivalences)

  1. The coexistence of opposing attitudes or feelings (such as love and hate) towards a person, object or idea.
    • 1952, Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man, Prologue:
      "I dearly loved my master, son," she said.
      "You should have hated him," I said.
      "He gave me several sons," she said, "and because I loved my sons I learned to love their father though I hated him too."
      "I too have become acquainted with ambivalence, I said.
  2. A state of uncertainty or indecisiveness.

Usage notes[edit]

This word is often used to express a lack of concern about the outcome of a choice to be made. In this case, a more appropriate word to use is indifference.

Related terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.



  • IPA(key): /ɑ̃ɑ̃s/
  • (file)


ambivalence f (plural ambivalences)

  1. ambivalence
  2. ambiguity

Further reading[edit]