Definition--Ambivalence- n. the state of being torn on an issue; possessing conflicting, opposite feelings about the same object, person, or situation.
Discussion--This word is formed by combining ambi (in both ways) with valentia (strength). When you are ambivalent towards
something you have feelings of equal strength on the opposite sides of an issue. There is a common phrase used to describe ambivalence: "sitting on the fence."
This is a phrase that we often hear in political jargon when two candidates are questioning the convictions of each other. In one political debate that I watched
a candidate accused the other of "sitting on the fence with the issue of abortion." He proceeded to say, "you're either pro-choice or pro-life, which is it. You've got to
make up your mind!"
While "sitting on the fence" is usually not a good idea in the political arena, there are times when ambivalence (or at least the appearance thereof)
can be beneficial. For instance, should you ever be asked by your mother-in-law if you like her cooking more than your own mother's, always feign ambivalence.
You never know what information will get back to your mother!
Etymology--Ambivalence- from Latin ambi- (in two ways) + -valentia (strength).
Notice that this word shares a Latin root with one of our former Words of the Week: Ambidextrous- ability to use both hands.
Note that the foreign translations also share the Latin roots with the English translation.