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In my experience of learning English, I notice some words (very few) are used in practicality to mean something else that are not necessarily included in the definitions of dictionaries. Here's one that 2 of my friends are adamant about the word's correct usage.....accroding to them.

They use the "ambivalent" as they would "indifferent" or "don't care". But I don't see that definition anywhere under "ambivalent" in several dictionaries. Are they mistaken? These are college students. I would appreciate some explanation.

Thanks in advance.

Raen
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Let's say I asked you "Where do you want to go for dinner?"

If you are feeling "simultaneous and contradictory attitudes or feelings (as attraction and repulsion) toward an object, person, or action" or are experiencing "uncertainty as to which approach to follow" you can say "I don't care. I'm ambivalent."

Going to place A sounds good, but is it better than place B? Maybe. Is place B the best choice after all? Maybe C is better. But then, A is as good as C.

That makes you ambivalent. It doesn't quite mean indifferent, because you do care, you just don't care about one choice more than the other.
Thank you so much, GG. Now they are all tied together. I've got it.

Here's another question about the usage of the word. In your example above, "I don't care. I'm ambivalent." to which you'd provided a context. My question is, can one use that word in a general sense to describe someone whoes, in general, attitude towards many things, ideas, etc. in life is "don't matter or care much". Like this,

"So tell me what he's like?"

"Well, he's nice, easy going....and ambivalent."

Would that work? Does that make sense? Or is the word used only when a context is provided?

Thank you Emotion: smile

Raen
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I agree with GG on the first one.

Re your follow-up post, I don't think the adjective works as a description of a person who is indecisive.

The "bi" is there for a reason. When you say He's "AC/DC," there are two choices. "Ambidextrous" doesn't mean you can do the job with any of three hands - or no hands! It means specifically "either of two hands."

I may be wrong, but I've always assumed the origin is from Chemistry, and valence involves a potential action: A is capable of joining with either B or C, or more accurately, a representative of group B or group C. It doesn not mean the absence of a particular desire to do either. It wants to join!

There are people who desire A, and those who desire B, and those who desire either A or B, and those who desire NOT A or B, and those who have no desire.

I think this is an example of what MrM calls "overkill." Sorry!

Oh dear, it goes on! I've read GG again. So how do we apply this to (1.) doing X, and (2.) not doing X?

I just want to stress that the person who has no opinion on this choice should not be called "ambivalent," IMHO. The "indecision" of the ambivalent person results from a balance between the pros and cons. He may in fact be extremely conflicted about it.
Lol, Avangi. I was just finishing the paragraph with the chemistry example and made a mental note to myself to re-read the thread just to make sure I absorb all the information: you know the AC/DC (I don't what this is refered to, but I'm sure it's not the Rock band, right?), and the A and B variables like those in math class. As I continued on to the next paragraph, I thought to myself, "this is getting as abstract as my English reading assignment!" (Gosh, there's little love between me and anything abstract, I'm abstract-challenged, those crypto abstraction with cosmic ambiguity could really push me over the edge). Then you said this,
Avangi think this is an example of what MrM calls "overkill." Sorry!
I laughed out loud. It's like at that very point of your reply, you knew the capacity of my little brain. Don't get me wrong, I really appreciate your information. It shows that you care, yay![F] Thanks again.

However, according to the your explanation in the last part of your post, "ambivalent" is describing someone who in fact cares a lot but can't make a decision between choices, therefore not applicable to people who otherwise simply "don't care", is that right?

Raen
ambivalence (www.m-w.com)

1: simultaneous and contradictory attitudes or feelings (as attraction and repulsion) toward an object, person, or action
2 a: continual fluctuation (as between one thing and its opposite) b: uncertainty as to which approach to follow

Not caring or being indifferent is not the same as being ambivalent. Not caring and being ambivalent may exist in the same person at the same time, but they are not the same thing.

In the example above, it did not matter to the person which choice was made. (The person didn't care.) The reason it didn't matter was that s/he was ambivalent about the choices offered in the first place.

One might be ambivalent about whether to include a certain deduction on one's income tax, but that doesn't make them not care. They may care a great deal about the legal consequences of their choice.

CJ
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Raen "ambivalent" is describing someone who in fact cares a lot but can't make a decision between choices, therefore not applicable to people who otherwise simply "don't care", is that right?
I like it!

I'd only complicate it a bit by considering the child who is instructed to choose between two toys, one of which will be his to keep. Greed prevents his choosing, because he wants both. I'm disinclined to call this guy ambivalent toward the choice, just as I am the child who has no interest in receiving either toy. But the greedy child seems to fit your definition.

I'm probably wrong about this. But I think the ambivalent person realizes he can't have both.
Thanks CalifJim and Avangi, as always, I can't say enough of these words of gratitude, you are great teachers.

Not to sound corny or lame like I'm kissing up, but this is sincere. I have wanted to thank you and other teachers on this forum for your tremendous help in my learning the language since I joined this forum, and the instant, thorough and informative feebacks to the questions I've posted, or anyone's, so far. You may not realize how much your selfless and tireless efforts to share your knowledge have helped prepare me for my pursuit of higher education, and paved the way for a smoother ride for me in my college life. I just want to say, "thank you".

Raen
RaenI just want to say, "thank you".
You are most welcome! Emotion: wink

CJ
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