In particular, an event or situation that will be interpreted differently by people with different biases/experiences/etc.?

"Clinton's election loss was a [???] for the Democrats; to some, it meant that the party needed to move left, while others thought it meant the far left should compromise."

(No actual political commentary intended.)

  • relative.
    – Dan Bron
    Jun 29, 2017 at 23:09
  • Just about anything can / will be. 'Open to interpretation' is in the right ballpark. Jun 29, 2017 at 23:55
  • contextual, where the difference in the context is the observing/interpreting party.
    – Drew
    Jun 30, 2017 at 1:59
  • In your sentence, perhaps "conundrum" would fit. See MW for synonyms and related words.
    – Xanne
    Jun 30, 2017 at 5:07
  • 1
    A talking-point? Jun 30, 2017 at 18:13

2 Answers 2


I can think of two words that might be useful, depending on whether you want to emphasize that something is open to interpretation generally or something that is contentious.

"Moot", as in a moot point or moot question. Moot has taken on a negative connotation, but Merriam-Webster defines moot as in two different senses:


1a: open to question : DEBATABLE

1b: subjected to discussion : DISPUTED

2: deprived of practical significance : made abstract or purely academic

I think senses 1a and 1b are describing exactly the "open-endedness" of these types of questions, particularly that they prompt debate and discussion. Sense 2 is the negative connotation of the word, and is often used to be dismissive of a concern. However, senses 1a/1b are equally valid and capture what you're suggesting, but may cause some confusion with your audience as they will have to discern if you're being dismissive/critical.

"Subjective" is another possibility. Cambridge has a somewhat negative definition:


influenced by or based on personal beliefs or feelings, rather than based on facts

On the other hand, I frequently hear people use the Merriam-Webster definition, to capture what you're suggesting in a much more neutral, nonjudgmental way:


4a(2): modified or affected by personal views, experience, or background


Might I also suggest the word **perspective*

Ex. Each approached the debate with a different perspective.


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