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Sir John Tenniel's illustration of the Caterpillar for Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is noted for its ambiguous central figure, whose head can be viewed as being a human male's face with a pointed nose and pointy chin or being the head end of an actual caterpillar, with the first two right "true" legs visible.<ref>"And do you see its long nose and chin? At least, they look exactly like a nose and chin, that is don't they? But they really are two of its legs. You know a Caterpillar has got quantities of legs: you can see more of them, further down." Carroll, Lewis. The Nursery "Alice". Dover Publications (1966), p 27.</ref>

Ambiguity is a type of uncertainty of meaning in which several interpretations are plausible. It is thus an attribute of any idea or statement whose intended meaning cannot be definitively resolved according to a rule or process with a finite number of steps. (The ambi- part of the name reflects an idea of "two" as in two meanings.)

The concept of ambiguity is generally contrasted with vagueness. In ambiguity, specific and distinct interpretations are permitted (although some may not be immediately apparent), whereas with information that is vague, it is difficult to form any interpretation at the desired level of specificity.

Context may play a role in resolving ambiguity. For example, the same piece of information may be ambiguous in one context and unambiguous in another.


Ambiguity sections
Intro   Linguistic forms    Intentional application    Music    Visual art    Constructed language    Computer science    Mathematical notation    Mathematical interpretation of ambiguity    Pedagogic use of ambiguous expressions    See also    References    External links   

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