A colleague of mine recently used the following

I mention in no unambiguous terms...

Now, I have heard and read the following

I mention in no unclear terms...

The second usage is perfectly fine and I understand it, however the first usage sounds a little weird to me. I feel it is wrong since if you remove the double negative, it reads as

I mention in ambiguous terms...

Is the usage plain wrong or just not that widely used?

  • 1
    He should say I mention in no ambiguous terms. Then it means the same as I mention in no unclear terms. – DyingIsFun Jun 9 '16 at 2:37
  • You're right -- the first usage is weird. – Hot Licks Jun 9 '16 at 2:39
  • @Hot Licks: Thanks, it does feel weird, but isn't it also wrong? – Kanini Jun 9 '16 at 2:42
  • It's wrong. If you want it to mean the same as I mention in no unclear terms, it should be I mention in no ambiguous terms. – DyingIsFun Jun 9 '16 at 3:10
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    This sort of thing happens often when people speak quickly and want to really emphasize something so they inadvertently conflate two idioms or add extra negation that winds up changing the meaning when parsed literally. But it’s clear here that the intention was to emphasize the clarity with which the speaker mentioned whatever he was mentioning. – Jim Jun 9 '16 at 4:43

A more common phrase would be to say "In no uncertain terms". The idiom mentioned "no unambiguous terms" is being re-written from the above original idiom.


in a very clear and direct way

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