ambi- Look up ambi- at
word-forming element meaning "both, on both sides," from Latin ambi- "around, round about," from PIE *ambhi "around" (source also of Greek amphi "round about;" Sanskrit abhitah "on both sides," abhi "toward, to;" Avestan aibi; Old English ymbe, German um; Gaulish ambi-, Old Irish imb- "round about, about;" Old Church Slavonic oba; Lithuanian abu "both"). The PIE root probably is an ablative plural of *ant-bhi "from both sides," from *ant- "front, forehead" (see ante).
ambiance (n.) Look up ambiance at
1923, a reborrowing of the French form of ambience, used in art writing as a term meaning "atmospheric effect of an arrangement" (see ambient).
ambidexterity (n.) Look up ambidexterity at
1650s, from obsolete adjective ambidexter "two-sided, using both hands with equal facility," also "double-dealing," from Medieval Latin ambidexter (see ambidextrous) + -ity.
ambidextrous (adj.) Look up ambidextrous at
1640s, with -ous, from ambidexter (adj.) "double-dealing" (1610s), from French ambidextre or directly from Latin ambidexter, literally "right-handed on both sides," from ambi- "both" (see ambi-) + dexter "right-handed" (see dexterity). Its opposite, ambilevous "left-handed on both sides, clumsy" (1640s) is rare. Ambidexter as a noun, "one who takes bribes from both sides," is attested from 1530s and is the earliest form of the word in English; its sense of "one who uses both hands equally well" appears by 1590s.
Ambien Look up Ambien at
trade name for prescription medication Zolpidem, registered 1993 in U.S., no doubt suggested by ambient or words like it in French.
ambience (n.) Look up ambience at
1797, from French ambiance (see ambient). Compare ambiance.
ambient (adj.) Look up ambient at
1590s, "surrounding, encircling," from Latin ambientem (nominative ambiens) "going round," present participle of ambire "to go around," from amb- "around" (see ambi-) + ire "go" (see ion). The ground sense of "revolving" led to "encircling, lying all around."
ambiguity (n.) Look up ambiguity at
c. 1400, "uncertainty, doubt, indecision, hesitation," also from Medieval Latin ambiguitatem (nominative ambiguitas) "double meaning, equivocalness, double sense," noun of state from ambiguus (see ambiguous).
ambiguous (adj.) Look up ambiguous at
1520s, from Latin ambiguus "having double meaning, shifting, changeable, doubtful," adjective derived from ambigere "to dispute about," literally "to wander," from ambi- "about" (see ambi-) + agere "drive, lead, act" (see act (n.)). Sir Thomas More (1528) seems to have first used it in English, but ambiguity dates back to c. 1400. Related: Ambiguously; ambiguousness.
ambisexual (adj.) Look up ambisexual at
"unisex" (of clothing), also "bisexual," 1912 in the jargon of psychology, from ambi- + sexual. As a humorous coinage based on ambidextrous, ambisextrous is recorded from 1929.
ambisexuality (n.) Look up ambisexuality at
1916, from ambisexual + -ity.
ambit (n.) Look up ambit at
late 14c., "space surrounding a building or town; precinct;" 1590s, "a circuit," from Latin ambitus "a going round," past participle of ambire "to go round, to go about" (see ambient).
ambition (n.) Look up ambition at
mid-14c., from Middle French ambition or directly from Latin ambitionem (nominative ambitio) "a going around," especially to solicit votes, hence "a striving for favor, courting, flattery; a desire for honor, thirst for popularity," noun of action from past participle stem of ambire "to go around" (see ambient).

Rarely used in the literal sense in English, where it carries the secondary Latin sense of "eager or inordinate desire of honor or preferment." In early use always pejorative, of inordinate or overreaching desire; ambition was grouped with pride and vainglory.
ambitious (adj.) Look up ambitious at
late 14c., from Latin ambitiosus "going around to canvass for office," from ambitio (see ambition). Related: Ambitiously.
ambivalence (n.) Look up ambivalence at
"simultaneous conflicting feelings," 1924 (1912 as ambivalency), from German Ambivalenz, coined 1910 by Swiss psychologist Eugen Bleuler (1857-1939) on model of German Equivalenz "equivalence," etc., from Latin ambi- "both" (see ambi-) + valentia "strength," from present participle of valere "be strong" (see valiant). A psychological term that by 1929 had taken on a broader literary and general sense.
ambivalent (adj.) Look up ambivalent at
1916, originally a term in psychology; back-formation from ambivalence. In general use by 1929.
ambivert (n.) Look up ambivert at
"person exhibiting features of an extrovert and an introvert," coined by Kimball Young in "Source Book for Social Psychology" (1927), from ambi- "about, around" + Latin vertere, as in introvert. Related: Ambiversion.
amble (v.) Look up amble at
early 14c., from Old French ambler "walk as a horse does," from Latin ambulare "to walk, to go about, take a walk," perhaps a compound of ambi- "around" (see ambi-) and -ulare, from PIE root *el- "to go" (source also of Greek ale "wandering," alaomai "wander about;" Latvian aluot "go around or astray"). Until 1590s used only of horses or persons on horseback. Related: Ambled; ambling. As a noun, from late 14c.
ambler (n.) Look up ambler at
late 14c., agent noun from amble (v.).
amblosis (n.) Look up amblosis at
"abortion, miscarriage," 1706, Modern Latin, from Greek amblosis "abortion," noun of action from ambloesthai "to come to nought." Related: Amblotic.
amblyopia (n.) Look up amblyopia at
1706, "weakening of the eyesight," medical Latin, from Greek amblyopia "dim-sightedness," noun of action from amblys "dulled, blunt" + ops "eye" (see eye (n.)) + abstract noun ending -ia. Related: Amblyopic.
Ambrose Look up Ambrose at
masc. proper name, from Latin Ambrosius, from Greek ambrosios "immortal, belonging to the immortals" (see ambrosia). The Ambrosian Library in Milan is named for Saint Ambrose (d.397), bishop of Milan.
ambrosia (n.) Look up ambrosia at
1550s, "favored food or drink of the gods," from Latin ambrosia, from Greek ambrosia "food of the gods," fem. of ambrosios, probably literally "of the immortals," from a- "not" (see a- (3)) + mbrotos, related to mortos "mortal," from PIE *mer- "to die" (see mortal (adj.)). Applied to certain herbs by Pliny and Dioscorides; used of various foods for mortals since 1680s (originally of fruit drinks); used figuratively for "anything delightful" by 1731.
ambrosial (adj.) Look up ambrosial at
1590s, "immortal, divine," from Latin ambrosius, from Greek ambrosios (see ambrosia).
ambrotype (n.) Look up ambrotype at
1855, American English, apparently from Greek ambrotos "immortal, imperishable" (see ambrosia), with second element from daguerreotype. A type of photograph on glass with lights given by silver and shades by a dark background showing through.
This invention consists in an improved process of taking photographic pictures upon glass, and also of beautifying and preserving the same, which process I have styled "ambrotype." My improved process has reference to the art of taking pictures photographically on a film of collodion upon the surface of a sheet of glass, the collodion being suitably prepared for the purpose. By the use of the said process, the beauty and permanency of such pictures are greatly increased, and I have on this account styled the process "ambrotype," from the Greek word ambrotos, immortal. ["Specification of the Patent granted to James A. Cutting, of Boston, in the United States of America, Photographer, for an Improved Process of taking Photographic Pictures upon Glass and also of Beautifying and Preserving the same. Dated London, July 26, 1854," printed in "Journal of the Franklin Institute," September 1855]
ambulance (n.) Look up ambulance at
1798, "mobile or field hospital," from French (hôpital) ambulant, literally "walking (hospital)," from Latin ambulantem (nominative ambulans), present participle of ambulare "to walk" (see amble).
AMBULANCE, s. f. a moveable hospital. These were houses constructed in a manner so as to be taken to pieces, and carried from place to place, according to the movements of the army; and served as receptacles in which the sick and wounded men might be received and attended. ["Lexicographica-Neologica Gallica" (The Neological French Dictionary), William Dupré, London, 1801]
The word was not common in English until the meaning transferred from "field hospital" to "vehicle for conveying wounded from field" (1854) during the Crimean War. In late 19c. U.S. the word was used dialectally to mean "prairie wagon." Ambulance-chaser as a contemptuous term for a type of lawyer dates from 1897.
ambulant (adj.) Look up ambulant at
1610s, from Latin ambulantem (nominative ambulans), present participle of ambulare (see amble). Of diseases, denoting cases in which the patient may be up and around, by 1913.
ambulate (v.) Look up ambulate at
1620s, from Latin ambulatus, past participle of ambulare "to walk" (see amble). Related: Ambulated; ambulating.
ambulation (n.) Look up ambulation at
1540s, from Latin ambulationem (nominative ambulatio), noun of action from past participle stem of ambulare (see amble).
ambulatory (adj.) Look up ambulatory at
"pertaining to walking;" also "shifting, not permanent," 1620s, from Latin ambulatorius "of or pertaining to a walker; movable," from ambulator, agent noun from past participle stem of ambulare "to walk" (see amble). Middle English had ambulary "movable" (mid-15c.).
ambulatory (n.) Look up ambulatory at
from Medieval Latin ambulatorium, from Latin ambulatorius "movable," from ambulare (see amble).
ambuscade (n.) Look up ambuscade at
1580s, essentially a variant form of ambush (n.), representing a reborrowing of that French word after it had been Italianized. Ambuscade is from French embuscade (16c.), Gallicized from Italian imboscata, literally "a hiding in the bush," compounded from the same elements as Old French embuscher. Sometimes in English as ambuscado, with faux Spanish ending of the sort popular in 17c.
ambush (v.) Look up ambush at
c. 1300, from Old French embuscher (13c., Modern French embûcher) "to lay an ambush," from en- "in" + busch "wood," apparently from Frankish *busk "bush, woods" (see bush (n.)). Related: Ambushed; ambushing.
ambush (n.) Look up ambush at
late 15c., embushe, from the English verb or from Middle French embusche, from Old French embuscher (see ambush (v.)). Earlier was ambushment (late 14c.). Figurative use by 1590s.
ame damnee (n.) Look up ame damnee at
"devoted adherent, toady," 1823, from French âme damnée "familiar spirit," literally "damned soul," originally a soul damned by compact with a controlling demon.
Amelia Look up Amelia at
fem. proper name, of Germanic origin, literally "laborious" (cognates: Old Norse ama "to trouble"), later assimilated with Roman gens name Aemilia.
ameliorate (v.) Look up ameliorate at
1728, perhaps a back-formation from amelioration on pattern of French améliorer. The simpler form meliorate was used in Middle English. Related: Ameliorated; ameliorating.
amelioration (n.) Look up amelioration at
1650s, from French amélioration, from Old French ameillorer (12c.), from a "to" (see ad-) + meillior (Modern French meìlleur) "to better," from Late Latin meliorare "improve," from Latin melior "better," perhaps originally "stronger," and related to Greek mala "very, very much," from PIE *mel- "strong, great" (see multi-).
ameliorative (adj.) Look up ameliorative at
1796, from ameliorate + -ive.
amen Look up amen at
Old English, from Late Latin amen, from Ecclesiastical Greek amen, from Hebrew amen "truth," used adverbially as an expression of agreement (as in Deuteronomy xxvii.26, I Kings i.36; compare Modern English verily, surely, absolutely in the same sense), from Semitic root a-m-n "to be trustworthy, confirm, support." Used in Old English only at the end of Gospels, otherwise translated as Soðlic! or Swa hit ys, or Sy! As an expression of concurrence after prayers, it is recorded from early 13c.
amenability (n.) Look up amenability at
1761; see amenable + -ity.
amenable (adj.) Look up amenable at
1590s, "liable," from Anglo-French amenable, Middle French amener "answerable" (to the law), from à "to" (see ad-) + mener "to lead," from Latin minare "to drive (cattle) with shouts," variant of minari "threaten" (see menace (n.)). Sense of "tractable" is from 1803, from notion of disposed to answer or submit to influence. Related: Amenably.
amend (v.) Look up amend at
early 13c., "to free from faults, rectify," from Old French amender (12c.), from Latin emendare "to correct, free from fault," from ex- "out" (see ex-) + menda "fault, blemish," from PIE *mend- "physical defect, fault" (source also of Sanskrit minda "physical blemish," Old Irish mennar "stain, blemish," Welsh mann "sign, mark").

Supplanted in senses of "repair, cure" by its shortened offspring mend (v.). Meaning "to add to legislation" (ostensibly to correct or improve it) is recorded from 1777. Related: Amended; amending.
amendment (n.) Look up amendment at
early 13c., "betterment, improvement;" c. 1300, of persons, "correction, reformation," from Old French amendment, from amender (see amend). Sense expanded to include "correction of error in a legal process" (c. 1600) and "alteration of a writ or bill" to remove its faults (1690s).
amends (n.) Look up amends at
early 14c., "restitution," collective singular, from Old French amendes "fine, penalty," plural of amende "reparation," from amender "to amend" (see amend).
amenities (n.) Look up amenities at
"creature comforts of a town, house, etc." 1908, plural of amenity. Latin amoena, plural of amoenus, also was used as a noun with a sense of "pleasant places."
amenity (n.) Look up amenity at
late 14c., "quality of being pleasant or agreeable," from Old French amenite, from Latin amoenitatem (nominative amoenitas) "delightfulness, pleasantness," from amoenus "pleasant," perhaps related to amare "to love" (see Amy).
amenorrhea (n.) Look up amenorrhea at
1804, Modern Latin, from Greek privative prefix a- "not" (see a- (3)) + men "month" (see moon (n.)) + rhein "to flow" (see rheum). Related: amenorrheal.
ament (n.) Look up ament at
"person born an idiot," 1894, from Latin amentia "madness," from amentem "mad," from a- "away from" + mentem "mind" (see mind (n.)).
amentia (n.) Look up amentia at
"mental deficiency," late 14c., from Latin amentia "madness," from amentem "mad," from a- "away from" + mentem "mind" (see mind (n.)) + abstract noun ending -ia.