Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Not clearly expressed; inexplicit.
  • adj. Not thinking or expressing oneself clearly.
  • adj. Lacking definite shape, form, or character; indistinct: saw a vague outline of a building through the fog.
  • adj. Not clear in meaning or application. See Synonyms at ambiguous.
  • adj. Indistinctly felt, perceived, understood, or recalled; hazy: a vague uneasiness.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. not clearly expressed; stated in indefinite terms.
  • adj. not having a precise meaning.
  • adj. not clearly defined, grasped, or understood; indistinct; slight.
  • adj. not clearly felt or sensed; somewhat subconscious.
  • adj. not thinking or expressing one’s thoughts clearly or precisely.
  • adj. lacking expression; vacant.
  • adj. not sharply outlined; hazy.
  • n. A wandering; a vagary.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Wandering; vagrant; vagabond.
  • adj. Unsettled; unfixed; undetermined; indefinite; ambiguous.
  • adj. Proceeding from no known authority; unauthenticated; uncertain; flying.
  • n. An indefinite expanse.
  • n. A wandering; a vagary.
  • intransitive v. To wander; to roam; to stray.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Wandering; roving; vagrant.
  • Uncertain as to characters and specific designation, yet limited in scope and application; restricted in logical breadth, without any corresponding fullness of logical depth; said to be determinate, but without precise expression of the determination.
  • Proceeding from no known authority; of uncertain origin or derivation: as, a vague report.
  • Having unclear perception or thought; not thinking clearly.
  • n. A wandering; a journey; a voyage.
  • n. A vagary; a whim.
  • n. An undefined expanse: indefinite space.
  • To wander; rove; roam; play the vagrant.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. lacking clarity or distinctness
  • adj. not clearly understood or expressed
  • adj. not precisely limited, determined, or distinguished

Etymologies

French, from Old French, wandering, from Latin vagus.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle French vague, from Latin vagus ("wandering, rambling, strolling, fig. uncertain, vague"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • These _vague_ articles, intended for a more vague performance, are the things which have damned our reputation in India.

    The Works of the Right Honourable Edmund Burke, Vol. 02 (of 12)

  • "Curious!" echoed Rebecca, finding the term vague even while suggestive.

    Lodusky

  • Weber himself is at least partly to blame for this problem, for he frequently left the term vague, in spite of many attempts to clarify himself.

    Charisma and History: The Case of Münster, Westphalia, 1534-1535. Tal Howard

  • An initial draft of the resolution, prepared by France and Britain, had language, I was told, that called for the exercise of "vigilance" involving arms transfers to Syria - a word vague enough for the Russians to have agreed to it last year in the latest round of U.N. sanctions against Iran.

    NYT > Home Page

  • I have used the English word vague as an equivalent of that word in Japanese aimaina.

    Kenzaburo Oe - Nobel Lecture

  • Scottish business school student Steven Renwick used to harbor what he called a "vague aspiration" to get his MBA from an American institution such as the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

    Yahoo! News: Business - Opinion

  • Now, Booth hopes to pick another court fight to clarify what he calls a "vague" situation that has left pastors uncertain about what they can and can't say from the pulpit.

    StarTribune.com rss feed

  • Yet despite this well-known pattern of exploitation, the company announced in January that Immigration and Customs Enforcement had awarded it a 5-year $385 million contract to build immigrant "detention facilities" (prisons) for immigrants arrested on charges of entering the country illegally and to provide construction and logistics support services in the event of an "immigration emergency," a term vague enough to cause activists to suspect the worst -- that they are openly planning to build detention camps for political dissidents.

    Charlie Cray: Prison Camps: BushCo's Big Growth Industry?

  • Late last week, Connecticut Senate candidate Linda McMahon was quoted as saying, in vague terms, that she'd be open to the idea of adjusting the federal minimum wage laws.

    Lawmakers Speak Out In Defense Of The Minimum Wage

  • I actually watched the so-called convention on c-span yesterday while exercising and was astounded as I watched speaker after speaker rail and spew in vague generalities not once did anyone actually propose any concrete proposal for a solution to any of their paranoid rants.

    Think Progress » Palin: Obama could win reelection if he ‘played the war card’ and declared ‘war on Iran.’

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Comments

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  • about 'scatty' old Anthea Bradbury-Scott:
    "She's vague, you know...very vague indeed"

    -Agatha Christie's Nemesis

    June 18, 2009