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

  • adj. Not precisely determined, determinable, or established: a person of indeterminate age.
  • adj. Not precisely fixed, as to extent, size, nature, or number: an indeterminate number of plant species in the jungle.
  • adj. Lacking clarity or precision, as in meaning; vague: an indeterminate turn of phrase.
  • adj. Not fixed or known in advance: an indeterminate future.
  • adj. Not leading up to a definite result or ending: an indeterminate campaign.
  • adj. Botany Not terminating in a flower and continuing to grow at the apex: an indeterminate inflorescence.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Not accurately determined or determinable.
  • adj. Imprecise or vague.
  • adj. Of growth: with no genetically defined end, and thus theoretically limitless.
  • adj. Of inflorescences: not topped with some form of terminal bud.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Not determinate; not certain or fixed; indefinite; not precise.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Not determinate; not settled or fixed; not definite; uncertain; not precise; not exclusively possessing either of a pair of contradictory attributes.

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

  • adj. not capable of being determined
  • adj. not leading to a definite ending or result
  • adj. of uncertain or ambiguous nature
  • adj. having a capacity for continuing to grow at the apex
  • adj. not precisely determined or established; not fixed or known in advance


Middle English, from Latin indēterminātus : in-, not; see in-1 + dēterminātus, determined; see determinate.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)


  • [And this means that] The accord between imagination as free and understanding as indeterminate is therefore not merely assumed: it is in a sense animated, enlivened, engendered by the interest of the beautiful (KCP 55).

    Notes on 'The Transcendental: Deleuze, P. B. Shelley, and the Freedom of Immobility'

  • Although I, like most law professors, can do a riff on how "35" is indeterminate, that is recognized as "academic" in the most pejorative sense; unless and until some 33-year-old is viewed as the truly indispensable person to inhabit the Oval Office, it will be taken as a given that we "know" what "35" means, which means a the passage of time time measured in solar (and not, for example, lunar) years.


  • BALES: ... you get some that are called indeterminate, that just keep going all season.

    CNN Transcript Jul 16, 2005

  • BALES: You get some that are called indeterminate, that just keep going all season.

    CNN Transcript Jun 18, 2005

  • 'Solar Set' is a determinate variety, unlike many of our readers may be used to (called indeterminate).

    2: Vegetables and small fruits in the tropics

  • Sex offenders would face open-ended prison sentences, known as "indeterminate," if members of a jury found them to be predatory. rss feed

  • For he that goes about the violation of a law, wherein no penalty is determined, expecteth an indeterminate, that is to say, an arbitrary punishment.

    Leviathan, or, The matter, forme, & power of a common-wealth ecclesiasticall and civill

  • Under a so-called indeterminate sentence for public protection, an offender is handed a minimum term that they must serve but they will only be freed after that point if the Parole - Telegraph online, Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph

  • For he that goes about the violation of a Law, wherein no penalty is determined, expecteth an indeterminate, that is to say, an arbitrary Punishment.


  • Alligators are believed to have what is referred to as indeterminate growth, which means they continue growing throughout their lifetime, albeit at an ever-diminishing rate.

    Local News from Tuscaloosa News


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  • “Tomato varieties are labeled as either indeterminate or determinate, and horticulture experts recommend choosing indeterminate ones for upside-down gardens. Determinate tomato plants are stubbier, with somewhat rigid stalks that issue all their fruit at once, which could weigh down and break the stems if hanging upside down. Indeterminate types, by contrast, have more flexible, sprawling stems that produce fruit throughout the season and are less likely to be harmed by gravity. ”

    The New York Times,, by Kate Murphy, May 19, 2010

    May 20, 2010