ag-, agen-, act-, agi-, agit-

(Latin: to set in motion, to hurry, to shake; to drive; to do, to act; to lead, to conduct, to guide)

agitational (adjective), more agitational, most agitational
1. Descriptive of something or someone who excites and often troubles the mind or feelings of; disturbing.
2. A reference to someone who discusses excitedly and earnestly.
3. Pertaining to anything that provokes, or stirs up, public discussion of a condition or situation.
agitative (adjective), more agitative, most agitative
A reference to causing or tending to cause anger or resentment.
agitator (s) (noun), agitators (pl)
1. A person who tries to stir up people in support of a social or political cause: often used in an unfavorable sense.
2. An apparatus for shaking or stirring, as in a washing machine.
agitatorial (adjective), more agitatorial, most agitatorial
1. Relating to that which shakes or moves irregularly.
2. A reference to anything, or anyone, that strives or tends to excite or endeavors to excite; such as as people.
agitatrix (s) (noun), agitatrices (pl)
A female who disturbs or bothers another person or people.
agitographia (s) (noun), agitographias (pl)
1. A condition in which someone writes too fast which results in leaving out words or parts of words.
2. A writing with excessive speed and with unconscious omissions of words and syllables or other elements.
agitography (s) (noun), agitographies (pl)
Hasty writing with an unconscious deletion of words, syllables, or letters.
agitolalia (s) (noun), agitolalias (pl)
Abnormally rapid speech in which words are imperfectly spoken or lost in a sentence.
agitophasia (s) (noun), agitophasias (pl)
1. Excessively fast speech when some words are not properly spoken or they are missing when a person is talking.
2. Etymology: from Latin agito, "to hurry" + Greek phasis, "speech".
The reaction of the sputum to tests for albumin.

The presence of albumin (positive reaction) is indicative of pulmonary inflammation.

ambiguity (s) (noun), ambiguities (pl)
1. A situation in which something can be understood in more than one way and it is not clear which meaning is intended: The journalist was told by his editor to remove the ambiguities from his article by adding more valid details and to clarify what was going on.
2. An expression or statement that has more than one meaning: There were ambiguities in the diagnosis by the physician regarding Nick's mental condition.
3. That which causes uncertainty or confusion: Because of the nature of the ambiguities of the answers provided by the politician, people were becoming less confident in his qualifications.
ambiguous (am BIG yoo uhs) (adjective), more ambiguous, most ambiguous
1. Concerning statements which have several possible meanings or interpretations; equivocal: Mary gave her parents an ambiguous answer instead of a clear explanation as to why she came home so late.
2. Relating to something of a doubtful or uncertain nature; regarding an aspect difficult to comprehend, to distinguish, or to classify: It was clear from Jim's note to his parents that he had left the country, but as to where his destination would be, he was ambiguous.
3. Pertaining to a situation which lacks clearness or definiteness; obscure; indistinct: Ambiguous can refer to a person or the contents in a piece of writing.
4. Etymology: from Latin ambiguus, "having double meanings, shifting, changeable, doubtful"; derived from ambigere, "to dispute about"; literally, "to wander"; from ambi-, "about" + agere, "to drive, to lead, to act".

"Ambivalent" refers to people and their attitudes while ambiguous refers to something said or written.

Not clearly explained nor understood.
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A vague or dubious meaning.
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Having two or more possible meanings, vague.
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Doubtful, not clear or definite.
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Go to this Word A Day Revisited Index
for a list of additional Mickey Bach illustrations.

Word History

Latin amb-, "about, around," combined with agere, "to drive", formed ambigere, literally, "to drive around, to waver". Out of this word grew the Latin ambiguus, "hesitating, uncertain". English borrowed it as ambiguous, with the meaning "equivocal, capable of being understood in either of two or more possible senses, vague."

—Based on information from Picturesque Word Origins; published by G & C. Merriam Company;
Springfield, Massachusetts; 1933; page 15.
ambiguously (adverb), more ambiguously, most ambiguously
1. Characteristic of how something might be understood in two or more possible senses or interpretations: Sandra ambiguously answered the question asked by her mother as to when she would marry her boyfriend because they had not made up their minds on a specific date.
2. Etymology: a descriptive term derived from ambigere, "to dispute about"; literally, "to wander" from ambi-, "about" + agere, "to drive, to lead, to act".
ambiguousness (s) (noun) (no plural)
1. The state or quality of being vague, unclear, or being open to many interpretations: The ambiguousness, or uncertainty, of Jack’s answer didn’t help Elizabeth understand why he was looking for a new job.
2. The vagueness of something which makes people hesitant to accept what has been presented by someone: The ambiguousness of the mayor’s plans for the new city hall created a lot of confusion in the minds of the citizens.

When the speaker used the ambiguousness of "1 + 2 = 3", Mark didn't know if the man meant "one man plus two women", or "one woman plus two men", or "a father, a mother, plus a child"; as shown in the illustration below.

A man displays his ambidexterity by writing with both hands at the same time.
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ambiguphobe (s) (noun), ambiguphobes (pl)
Someone who over defines terms and over determines states of affairs out of a compulsive fear of being misunderstood: An ambiguphobe may often say, "Let me make this perfectly clear" or "I want to make very sure that there's no misunderstanding of what I'm saying."