Ambiguous Is: Definition, Examples, and Application

Ambiguous is – Ambiguous is a term that is quite commonly heard in everyday conversation. Sinaumed’s may have found that your friend experienced a mistake when you told a story. The event is a simple example of ambiguity.

Even so, there are times when we use ambiguous definitions incorrectly in everyday conversations. There are times when we think a sentence is ambiguous, when in fact the sentence is not ambiguous at all.

In this article, Sinaumed’s will learn all about ambiguity. You will study the definition of ambiguity, types of ambiguity, examples of ambiguity, what factors cause ambiguity. Hopefully, after reading this article, Sinaumed’s will be able to understand ambiguous topics and be able to tell what is truly ambiguous and what is not.

Ambiguous is a word with a double meaning

To make it easier for Sinaumed’s to understand ambiguity, we will start this article from the meaning or definition of ambiguity. This time, the definition of ambiguous will be taken from 2 types of dictionaries, namely the Big Indonesian Dictionary (KBBI) and the Oxford Dictionary in English.

Based on KBBI, the word ambiguous has a meaning as a word that has more than one meaning. This can lead to ambiguity, doubt or confusion in the interpretation. Ambiguous words themselves can also be defined as something that has a double meaning.

Meanwhile, the English word for “ambiguous” is ” ambiguous “. If we look up the word “ ambiguous ” in the Oxford Dictionary, then you can find its translation definition as “open to more than one interpretation”, or “has a double meaning.

So, with the definition above, Sinaumed’s can conclude that basically, ambiguous is a word that has more than one or multiple meanings and can have more than one interpretation. This ambiguous word can cause ambiguity in spoken and written sentences.

This ambiguity can lead to errors when someone wants to interpret a sentence or word from an article or speech. It sounds trivial, but a mistake in understanding this meaning can sometimes cause bigger losses than Sinaumed’s thought.

That is the reason why we need to study language or linguistics carefully, so that we avoid ambiguous names. Whether at school or college, we will study the subject of Indonesian. These subjects can help us to understand our own language more deeply, and avoid ambiguity.

Ambiguous Types

This ambiguity has various types. At least, there are 3 types of ambiguity, each named phonetic ambiguity, lexical ambiguity, and structural ambiguity. These ambiguous types exist due to a variety of factors, which inevitably stem from a lack of linguistic understanding.

This time, we will only discuss the types of ambiguity that exist in linguistics. While examples of ambiguous sentences based on these ambiguous types will be discussed in the next session. Here’s the presentation.

Phonetic Ambiguity

The phonetic ambiguity here is taken from the term phonetics, namely the study of sound. As Sinaumed’s knows, humans will make some kind of sound or sound when they are communicating. This sound is a medium of communication between humans, so differences in sound can cause misunderstandings.

The last explanation is the definition of phonetic ambiguity. This ambiguity only applies in the form of spoken conversation, where a person misunderstands the intent or meaning of an utterance from the other person, because the person’s pronunciation is unclear, or there are similarities in pronunciation, causing ambiguity.

Lexical Ambiguity

Lexical or lexicology is the study of the meaning of words in a particular language. This is done because in every language, there are a number of words that have similarities in pronunciation and writing, but their meanings are different from one another.

Because of the similarities in writing or pronunciation, sometimes someone can misunderstand a word. This misunderstanding is also known as lexical ambiguity. This can happen when someone understands one definition of a word with the definition of another word if the words have the same spelling or pronunciation.

Grammatically Ambiguous

Sinaumed’s may already know the definition of grammatical, which is structure and grammar that aims to regulate the use of words and sentences. Each language has its own grammar, so sentence structure and word usage can differ from one language to another.

And it needs to be learned that changes in sentence structure and words can cause changes in meaning. This is what causes grammatical ambiguity, in which a person replaces sentence structure and uses words, either intentionally or unintentionally, causing misinterpretation.

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Ambiguous Sentence Examples

Based on the explanation above, Sinaumed’s can see that even if a sentence looks ambiguous, the sentences have different reasons why they are considered as ambiguous. To make things clearer, we will study examples of ambiguous sentences based on each type of ambiguity.

Examples of Phonetic Ambiguous Sentences

To understand phonetic ambiguity, Sinaumed’s must first read the sentences below carefully, and understand the meaning of the context of the underlined words.

  • “The incident has been fried by the media”. The word fried here can have 2 meanings, namely cooking a meal, or discussing a topic continuously.
  • “This proposal has been wrapped up by the campus.” The word wrapped here can have 2 meanings, namely to cover something with some sort of cover, or something that has already been completed.
  • “Earlier he felt goiter with his mother.” The word goiter here can have 2 meanings, namely thyroid gland disease and feelings of annoyance towards someone.

Examples of Lexical Ambiguous Sentences

As Sinaumed’s knows, a word can have several definitions, so it can be used in a number of sentences depending on the context. Look at some examples of words below.


  • “The leaves are green”. The word green here defines the color of the leaf.
  • “Junior level is still green about the world of campus”. The word green here refers to the experience of younger siblings who are still little or zero.


  • “The person in this photo looks blurry.” The blurry word here indicates the obscurity of the person in the photo.
  • “My future is still blurry.” The word opaque here describes the person’s ignorance regarding his future.


  • “The ax is made of stone”. The word stone here describes the basic material for an axe, as well as minerals formed from the earth.
  • “He’s a bit stone about the hours of rest.” The word rock here refers to the stubborn nature of people, especially regarding rest hours.

Examples of Grammatically Ambiguous Sentences

Sentences that generally fall into grammatical ambiguity are in the form of figurative phrases. Not all, but there are several figurative phrases that do not follow the rules of good and correct grammatical writing. Check out some of the figurative phrases below.

Entering twilight

  • “Soon we will soon enter the twilight.” Entering twilight in this context has the real meaning of ‘entering twilight’.
  • “This football player’s career has entered twilight.” Entering dusk in this context means that it is about to end or finish.


  • “There was a tug-of-war event between the angler and the fish he caught.” Push and pull in this context has a real meaning related to the angler’s struggle to attract fish and the fish’s resistance to stretch the fishing line.
  • “This man is doing a tug of war on the girl he likes.” Push and pull in this context means a man who gives mixed signals with a woman he likes.

Weak heart

  • “This man has a weak heart condition.” Weak heart in this context is a disease of the liver.
  • “This figure has a weak heart’. Weak heart in this context is not having confidence and firmness in carrying out personal principles.

Factors for Forming Ambiguous Sentences

Of course, these ambiguous sentences will not be formed if someone is careful in forming sentences, and wants to learn a language well. At least, there are 3 factors that can cause the formation of ambiguous sentences, namely:

Morphological Factors

In this case, ambiguous sentences are formed because there are words that are formed poorly, causing misunderstandings in understanding the context.

Example sentence: “Mother’s chocolate was swallowed by a dog.”

In the above sentence, people can think that the dog actually swallowed the chocolate on purpose, or that the dog accidentally swallowed this chocolate.

Syntactic Factor

Syntax itself has a purpose as a word order. Ambiguous sentences can be caused by errors in word order, making the meaning of a sentence have another meaning.

Example sentences: “Grandma looked at the blue sky ,” and ” Sky blue clothes .”

From the sentence above, Sinaumed’s can see that simply changing the arrangement of 2 words can cause a difference in the meaning of the words, so they cannot be used in the same sentence.

Structural Factors

This last factor is related to grammar and word order. Differences in placing punctuation marks, or using different prefixes and endings, can cause changes in meaning.

Example sentences: “Mom, dad is out of town,” and “Mom! Dad is out of town?”

The two sentences above only have punctuation differences. However, Sinaumed’s could see that the first sentence had the context of giving information, while the second sentence seemed to be panicking and asking.

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Ambiguity in Other Sciences

With this, Sinaumed’s already knows all about the ambiguous nature of linguistics. However, did you know that this ambiguous nature is not only found in linguistics, but can also be found in a number of other sciences?

The ambiguous nature here can also cause confusion on a topic in a related science. This confusion does not have to be something in the form of a sentence, but also something specific that can only be found in the science being discussed.

So, what are the sciences that also have ambiguous nature? This session will also close the article on ambiguity. Hopefully, Sinaumed’s’ knowledge, especially in ambiguous topics, can be further explained and there will be no misunderstandings in the conversation.


Philosophy is the study of fundamental questions about life. Philosophy itself is also the root of other sciences, because the basic nature of philosophy itself is curiosity, making a person often question something that has never been asked before.

In questioning something, sometimes philosophers think something that is ambiguous. And sometimes too, this ambiguous thought actually makes them wrong in making conclusions, so that their arguments related to these thoughts are even being debated by other philosophers.

In addition, this ambiguity can also be found in writing errors, similar to linguistics. Structural factors that were discussed earlier, such as differences in writing punctuation or affixes, also have an influence when philosophers want to convey their thoughts.


As Sinaumed’s already knows, mathematics is a basic science that studies the calculation of numbers. Several other branches of science, generally exact sciences such as physics, chemistry, and statistics, are branches of science that were developed from mathematics.

Although mathematics is a science in which one can find something almost certain, in fact there is one theory that disproves this. The ambiguous nature of mathematics can be found in a theory called underdetermination theory .

In short, this theory of underdetermination explains that for every scientifically based theory there will always be at least one other theory that is also supported by evidence. The theory can also be logically defended in the face of new evidence, giving rise to the ambiguous nature of mathematics.

Social Psychology

Social psychology is the study of how individual thoughts, feelings, and behavior are affected by the presence of other people and social norms. The existence of these people and norms is influenced by humans, even when alone.

In social psychology, ambiguity is one of the factors used in determining people’s responses to specific situations. People will generally act differently if they know for certain about the situation they are facing.

The more unclear or ambiguous a situation is, the greater a person will not want to react, for fear of misinterpreting the situation. On the other hand, if the situation they faced was clear, then one would be quicker to respond.

Computer Science

Computer science is the study of computing, automation and information. This computer science covers a number of things such as those that are mathematical in nature such as algorithms, computational theory, information theory, automation, and are practical, types of design, implementation of hardware and software.

The ambiguous nature that can be found in computer science is quite specific, namely in the application of units of measurement, especially in memory storage, such as kilobits, megabits, gigabits, and so on. This unit of memory should have a sum of 1024, and be valid in multiples of the next power.

However, in reality, memory storage that is commonly found in electronic devices such as cellphones, computers, or other devices, is generally smaller or larger than the required storage unit. This causes ambiguity or ambiguity regarding the correct storage size.

Of course, there are a number of books that can help Sinaumed’s so that you understand linguistics better and avoid ambiguity. The books that will be recommended this time are the book ” Puebi & Complete Guidelines for Forming Terms “, the book ” Indonesian Dictionary with EYD According to the Guidelines for the National Language Institute Revised Edition “, and the book ” Philosophy of Science “.

Puebi & Complete Term Formation Guidelines

Indonesian Dictionary with EYD According to the Guidelines for the Revised Edition of the National Language Institute

Science phylosophy

Sinaumed’s can read books related to ambiguous topics and other Indonesian lessons that you can find on the site . Remember Sinaumed’s, that you will get #MoreWithReading knowledge and information. Greetings literacy!

Author: M. Adrianto S.

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