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Related to amphibology: amphiboly


n. pl. am·phi·bol·o·gies
An ambiguous or equivocal statement.

[French amphibologie, from Late Latin amphibologia : Latin amphibo(lia), ambiguity (from Greek amphiboliā, from amphibolos, doubtful; see amphibole) + Latin -logia, -logy (added on the model of such words as tautologia, tautology).]


(ˌæmfɪˈbɒlədʒɪ) or


n, pl -gies or -lies
(Logic) ambiguity of expression, esp when due to a grammatical construction, as in save rags and waste paper
[C14: from Late Latin amphibologia, ultimately from Greek amphibolos ambiguous; see amphibole, -logy]
ˌamphiˈbolic, amphibolous adj
amphibological adj
amˌphiboˈlogically adv


(æmˈfɪb ə li)

n., pl. -lies.
ambiguity of speech, esp. from uncertainty of the grammatical construction rather than of the meaning of the words, as in The Duke yet lives that Henry shall depose.
[1580–90; < Latin amphibolia < Greek, =amphíbol(os) ambiguous, n. derivative of amphibállein to throw round, be in dispute + -ia -y3]


1. an ambiguity of language.
2. a word, phrase, or sentence that can be interpreted variously because of uncertainty of grammatical construction rather than ambiguity of the words used, as “John met his father when he was sick.” Also amphibologism, amphiboly.amphibological, amphibolous, adj.
See also: Grammar
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.amphibology - an ambiguous grammatical construction; e.g., `they are flying planes' can mean either that someone is flying planes or that something is flying planes
ambiguity - an expression whose meaning cannot be determined from its context
References in periodicals archive ?
The Counter-Reformation reinforcement of the transcendental, comic outlook did not entail the expulsion of tragedy from the Baroque republic of letters, but it did mean that there was the same amphibology of tragic and "comic," empathetic and detached perspectives in the tragic comedias as in the tragicomic comedias.
But the interest of Poggeschi's case goes beyond the sociology of literature and touches my subject more directly, as shown by the amphibology of the title of that already quoted little book.
On the other hand, the etymological forays, which expose European roots, are a reminder of an imperial elsewhere, which draws attention to the amphibology of the individual words, and hence to the precariousness of supposed univocal meanings.
But it is the very impossibility to pinpoint Henry, to read his legend unequivocally that ultimately tilts the balance and adjudicates (while further complicating) the amphibology by "seeing" the face's other, "true" face--the face as "ploy" and "mask.