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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.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.



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)

Picturesque Expressions: A Thematic Dictionary, 1st Edition. © 1980 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
(91.) See hart & sacks, supra note 73, at 147 ("The necessity [of consistency in the application of a rule] is an outgrowth of the necessity of employing abstractions in general arrangements, and of the inescapable indeterminateness which results.
The moment of freedom is the moment of complete indeterminateness, the moment of the freedom of the philosopher to impose a new order upon the human world.
And these different pieces to the religious freedom present, at least superficially, a broader picture of irrationality and indeterminateness to the doctrine.
In order to be efficient in the investigation of actual cases, the abstract principles of bioethics need to be specified, meaning that the indeterminateness of general norms is reduced in order to give them "increased action guiding capacity, while retaining the moral commitments in the original norm" (Beauchamp, 2003, 269).
Of course, the picture presented here perhaps exaggerates the indeterminateness of property rights, just as legal-realism jurisprudence has exaggerated the indeterminateness of law itself.
A few decades later, the suggestion from quantum physics of the uniqueness and individuality (indeterminateness) of physical entities would comport much better with the theists' belief in the radical character of all creatures and their dependence on the Creator.
The formalism that began with Mannerism and went on to define modernism in painting is a practice that expresses abstractness, what Adorno called "that irritating indeterminateness of what it is and to what purpose it is." It produces an "aesthetic distancing" that comes from appearance no longer being meaningful and space itself being questioned.
Since this is a serious obstacle in social nosology as compared with the medical nosology of individuals we get a much larger margin of indeterminateness, subjectivity and arbitrariness than it exists in medicine, though a good amount of this may be found there too.
Since the primary feature of the indefinite determiners neki and jedan in the article-like use is indeterminateness, they mostly resist combinations with demonstratives, which are regarded as one of the strongest grounding elements, despite quite a few examples found in the spoken register, which show that combinations with medial, as in examples (9a) and (9b) (16), or with distal forms, as in examples (9c) and (9d), are possible.
However, Hotelling warned of "indeterminateness" existing in the economic space of exhaustible resource producers when the numbers of producers are few and in competition: "When the supplies of the complementary goods are exhaustible, the same indeterminateness exists." (271) Additionally, he wrote, "[t]hese affrays give an example of the instability of competition when variations of price with location as well as time complicate commerce in an exhaustible asset." (272)
To be sure, the benefits paid by a tontine pension would vary from month to month because of fluctuations in the value of the underlying assets and the variability inherent in the indeterminateness of the deaths of other participants in the tontine pension.