from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Not precisely determined, determinable, or established.
  • adjective Not precisely fixed, as to extent, size, nature, or number.
  • adjective Lacking clarity or precision, as in meaning; vague.
  • adjective Not fixed or known in advance.
  • adjective Not leading up to a definite result or ending.
  • adjective Botany Not terminating in a flower and continuing to grow at the apex.
  • adjective Mathematics Having more than one variable and an infinite number of solutions, such as the equation 5x2 + 3y = 10.

from The Century Dictionary.

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

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Not determinate; not certain or fixed; indefinite; not precise.
  • adjective (Math.) that branch of analysis which has for its object the solution of indeterminate problems.
  • adjective (Math.) coefficients arbitrarily assumed for convenience of calculation, or to facilitate some artifice of analysis. Their values are subsequently determined.
  • adjective (Math.) an equation in which the unknown quantities admit of an infinite number of values, or sets of values. A group of equations is indeterminate when it contains more unknown quantities than there are equations.
  • adjective (Bot.) a mode of inflorescence in which the flowers all arise from axillary buds, the terminal bud going on to grow and sometimes continuing the stem indefinitely; -- called also acropetal inflorescence, botryose inflorescence, centripetal inflorescence, and indefinite inflorescence.
  • adjective (Math.) a problem which admits of an infinite number of solutions, or one in which there are fewer imposed conditions than there are unknown or required results.
  • adjective (Math.) a quantity which has no fixed value, but which may be varied in accordance with any proposed condition.
  • adjective (Math.) a series whose terms proceed by the powers of an indeterminate quantity, sometimes also with indeterminate exponents, or indeterminate coefficients.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

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

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

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


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

[Middle English, from Latin indēterminātus : in-, not; see in– + dēterminātus, determined; see determinate.]


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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