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From Old French amphibolie, from Latin amphibolia, from Ancient Greek ἀμφιβολία (amphibolía, ambiguity).



amphiboly (countable and uncountable, plural amphibolies)

  1. (grammar) An ambiguous grammatical construction.
    • 1781, Kant, "Critique of Pure Reason," from John Meiklejohn 1855 translation
      Without this reflection I should make a very unsafe use of these conceptions, and construct pretended synthetical propositions which critical reason cannot acknowledge and which are based solely upon a transcendental amphiboly, that is, upon a substitution of an object of pure understanding for a phenomenon.
    • 1931, Adrian Coates, "Philosophy as Criticism and Point of View," Philosophy, vol. 6, no. 23, p. 339,
      By logical errors I mean such simple things as Equivocation, Amphiboly, and Begging the Question.
    • 1987, Jeffrey Buechner, "Radically Misinterpreting Radical Interpretation," The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, vol. 45, no. 4, p. 410,
      The language might be fraught with word ambiguity or sentence amphiboly.

Usage notes[edit]

  • Strictly speaking, in an amphiboly the individual words are unambiguous; the ambiguity results entirely from the linguistic manner in which they have been combined. [1]

Derived terms[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed., 1989.