Amphibolia – Definition & Meaning

Amphibolia is a term used in linguistics to describe a type of ambiguity in language. It refers to a situation where a sentence or phrase can be interpreted in more than one way. This ambiguity can be caused by various factors, such as the use of homonyms, syntax, or idiomatic expressions.


Amphibolia is defined as “a grammatical construction that is ambiguous or open to more than one interpretation.” It is a type of linguistic ambiguity that can occur in both written and spoken language.
Origin of amphibolia.
The term amphibolia comes from the Greek word “amphibolos,” which means “ambiguous.” It was first used in the 16th century by the French philosopher and linguist, Guillaume Postel.

Meaning in different dictionaries

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, amphibolia is “an ambiguity arising from the structure of a sentence or from the use of words with more than one meaning.” Merriam-Webster defines it as “a grammatical construction that is susceptible of more than one interpretation.”


Amphibolia can be associated with various linguistic phenomena, such as homonyms, homophones, homographs, idiomatic expressions, and syntax. It can also be related to the concept of polysemy, which refers to words or phrases that have multiple meanings.


Some synonyms of amphibolia include ambiguity, equivocation, vagueness, and double entendre.


The antonyms of amphibolia include clarity, precision, unambiguity, and straightforwardness.

The same root words

The root word of amphibolia is “amphi,” which means “both” or “two.” This same root word is found in other words, such as amphibian, amphibious, and amphitheater.

Example Sentences

Here are some examples of sentences that demonstrate amphibolia:

  1. “I saw her duck.” (Did she lower her head or did she see a bird?).
  2. “The chicken is ready to eat.” (Is the chicken ready to be cooked or is it already cooked and ready to eat?).
  3. “I gave her the book that I bought yesterday.” (Did I buy the book yesterday or did I give it to her yesterday?).

In conclusion, amphibolia is a linguistic phenomenon that can cause confusion and ambiguity in language. It is important to be aware of this type of ambiguity and to use language that is clear and precise to avoid misunderstandings.

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