indeterminateness


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in·de·ter·mi·nate

 (ĭn′dĭ-tûr′mə-nĭt)
adj.
1.
a. Not precisely determined, determinable, or established: a person of indeterminate age.
b. Not precisely fixed, as to extent, size, nature, or number: an indeterminate number of plant species in the jungle.
c. Lacking clarity or precision, as in meaning; vague: an indeterminate turn of phrase.
d. Not fixed or known in advance: an indeterminate future.
e. Not leading up to a definite result or ending: an indeterminate campaign.
2. Botany Not terminating in a flower and continuing to grow at the apex: an indeterminate inflorescence.
3. Mathematics Having more than one variable and an infinite number of solutions, such as the equation 5x2 + 3y = 10.

[Middle English, from Latin indēterminātus : in-, not; see in-1 + dēterminātus, determined; see determinate.]

in′de·ter′mi·nate·ly adv.
in′de·ter′mi·nate·ness, in′de·ter′mi·na′tion (-nā′shən) n.

Indeterminateness

 

between hawk and buzzard Hovering in the balance between two extremes; caught in the middle; neither one nor the other. The early uses of this phrase, dating from the early 17th century, were based on the disparity between a hawk and a buzzard, although they are both birds of prey. According to the OED, the buzzard is an inferior type of hawk, useless for falconry. Elsewhere, the hawk is referred to as a “true sporting bird,” and the buzzard is called a “heavy lazy fowl of the same species.” Thus, hawk has positive connotations and buzzard negative. Brewer’s 1895 edition of The Dictionary of Phrase and Fable makes reference to tutors, governesses, etc., as being “between hawk and buzzard” because they are neither masters and mistresses nor lowly servants. The phrase is also sometimes used in referring to twilight, which is neither day nor night. Therefore, anything that is caught in the tension between two extremes, such as good and bad, light and dark, high and low, is “between hawk and buzzard.”

between hay and grass Neither one thing nor the other; indeterminate; in an in-between and undefinable stage. Just as a hobbledehoy is neither a man nor a boy, something is between hay and grass when it cannot be categorized or fitted into a slot.

neither fish nor flesh nor good red herring Neither this nor that; a person of uncertain or oscillating principles. This phrase originated in medieval England, where, on certain fast days, all strata of society abstained from their staple foods; monks abstained from fish, the general populace abstained from meat, and beggars abstained from herring. In its figurative sense, this term refers to a nondescript object or a wishy-washy person.

Damned neuters, in their middle way of steering,
Are neither fish nor flesh nor good red herring.
(John Dryden, “Epilogue” to The Duke of Guise, 1682)

ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.indeterminateness - the quality of being vague and poorly defined
uncertainness, uncertainty, precariousness - being unsettled or in doubt or dependent on chance; "the uncertainty of the outcome"; "the precariousness of his income"
inconclusiveness - the quality of being inconclusive
References in periodicals archive ?
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