Today I encountered this question on StackOverflow and saw the word amletic, which I've never come across before (as a native speaker).

...and I have an amletic doubt about one thing.

I looked it up and it doesn't appear in any dictionary that I can find. However, it does have a respectable number of hits on Google, all with a similar usage as in the original question (in doubt, question, or otherwise asking advice):

Is this just some bizarre case of a perfectly cromulent word that somehow grew out of nothing?

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    Several of the sites you linked to, and various others returned in Google's SERPs, appear to be written by native Italian speakers. According to Wiktionary, in Italian, "amletico" means "ambiguous", and in general, the questions all appear to be along the lines of "I'm torn; I'm on the fence; I don't know which to choose.". The word doesn't appear in Google Books or nGrams (except as a bad OCR rendering of "athletic"). Bottom line: I take this to be a sort of false-friend coinage for "ambiguous". – Dan Bron Sep 15 '14 at 15:32
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    @DanBron - you should post that. Good job. – anongoodnurse Sep 15 '14 at 15:45
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    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about something other than an English word – FumbleFingers Sep 15 '14 at 16:27
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    @FumbleFingers Even though it's being used in English prose--with anglicized spelling--as a loan word? – Patrick Quirk Sep 15 '14 at 16:30
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    @PatrickQuirk It seems to be an Italian-derived form, used only by Italians. I'd call that a mistake, rather than a loan word. – David Richerby Sep 15 '14 at 17:07

I think it is a wrong translation of Hamletic.


  • Di Amleto, proprio di Amleto, personaggio dell’omonima tragedia di Shakespeare, con riferimento al suo carattere irresoluto e pieno di contrasti.

  • (Hamlet (- Of Hamlet), the character of Shakespeare's tragedy, with reference to his character irresolute and full of contrasts.)

Source: www.treccani.it

As a side note; it is curious how the adjectival use of Hamlet is used more in Italy than in the English speaking world.

Ngram - Hamletic

Ngram - amletico

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    That doesn't fit in the context of any of the questions the OP linked to. Though I do agree it's a bad translation from Italian. See my comment. – Dan Bron Sep 15 '14 at 15:34
  • @DanBron - in Italian 'amletico' does not mean ambiguous, but irresolute, dubious. See the Treccani link above. – user66974 Sep 15 '14 at 15:38
  • see en.wiktionary.org/wiki/amletico#Italian – Dan Bron Sep 15 '14 at 15:41
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    @DanBron it is often used to mean when you are undecided (torn) between two or more options. Referring to Hamlet's continual indecisiveness. The Treccani is a very trustworthy and serious source. – Mari-Lou A Sep 15 '14 at 15:47
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    @Mari-LouA, hey, I'm not going to argue with someone whose profession is to help Italians learn English :) +1 on Josh's answer from me. – Dan Bron Sep 15 '14 at 15:49

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