I've been trying to think of an adjective that expresses having two (or perhaps more) conflicting emotions or opinions simultaneously. Can anyone think of one?

  • I am looking for words that actually combine more than one feeling ie anxiety and excitement. I made up a word which is Anxitement. Ambiv does not fit as it does not say what the feelings are.
    – user58731
    Commented Dec 2, 2013 at 23:37

11 Answers 11


Ambivalent (adj.)

ambivalence and ambivalency noun, originally psychol the concurrent adherence to two opposite or conflicting views, feelings, etc about someone or something. ambivalent adj. ambivalently adverb. ETYMOLOGY: 1912: from German Ambivalenz, from ambi-, modelled on 'equivalence'; see equivalent.


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    No worries, thank Kryten from Red Dwarf for that one!
    – user15183
    Commented Nov 24, 2011 at 14:20
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    Ah, series 7. That explains it. I zoned out a little when watching the last two series, since it wasn't their best work.
    – Polynomial
    Commented Nov 24, 2011 at 14:23
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    No ambivalence there then ;)
    – Polynomial
    Commented Nov 24, 2011 at 14:28
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    I think of ambivalent as applying to less-significant options -- I'm ambivalent about whether to get pizza or tacos for lunch, but I'm torn or conflicted about whether to take this job or that one. Commented Nov 24, 2011 at 17:45
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    @MonicaCellio: you'd be uncertain whether to pick pizza or tacos. People these days are misusing "ambivalent" to mean "uncertain". See etymonline's etymology for ambivalence.
    – outis
    Commented Nov 24, 2011 at 23:45

'Torn' is often used eg. I was torn between loving her, and wanting to kill her.

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    That's a possibility, but I'm really looking for an adjective rather than a verb.
    – Polynomial
    Commented Nov 24, 2011 at 14:11
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    torn is an adjective... Commented Nov 24, 2011 at 16:02

You could use "conflicted" possibly? Or "vie/vying," which is a verb even though you asked for an adjective.


To [be in]/[have]/[get] mixed feelings about something:

to have different conflicting feelings.

  • Mixed feelings fits an "I'm not sure about this" situation, rather than having two opposing emotions or opinions. I'm also convinced that it's a single word I'm looking for... I know I've heard it somewhere.
    – Polynomial
    Commented Nov 24, 2011 at 14:16

If I feel this way, I describe myself as "conflicted" or "confused".

I would not use "ambivalent" for two conflicting emotions; I describe myself as "ambivalent" if I am caught between multiple choices in a decision and don't feel strongly about any of them.

  • But Lexico, for instance, has 'having mixed feelings or contradictory ideas about something or someone'. ELU requires objective answers. Commented Apr 18, 2020 at 15:10

Cognitive Dissonance...

The feeling of uncomfortable tension which comes from holding two conflicting thoughts in the mind at the same time.


I suggest dichotomous:

involving or proceeding from something with seemingly contradictory qualities


I believe what you're looking for is 'cognitive dissonance'.


  • Please provide some detail about your answer. Link-only answers are not considered as appropriate answers since they can get obsolete in case the contents of the link change.
    – Neeku
    Commented Aug 31, 2014 at 18:17

Soulrending, jiminied, jeckled, mentally eviscerated.

Whenever I cant find a word fit into a story I'm writing, I usually just write a short descriptive sentence, to fill in the blank and most times it sounds better than it would have originally. Or you could just make one up and hope it catches on: Shakespeare did it a lot.

  • Welcome to English Language & Usage. We're looking for answers with more detail. Your post would be improved if it included references and an explanation of why it answers the question.
    – user63230
    Commented Dec 27, 2014 at 11:45

Turmoil fits as a noun. Unfortunately, the adjective tumultuous doesn't work as well.

  • To be in turmoil does not not actually require that one is ambivalent or conflicted. Commented Nov 25, 2011 at 0:08
  • 'Turmoil' might be result of the torn emotions, but is not specific to emotions or even the result of a choice. It simply means greatly disturbed (for whatever reason) eg. 'the city was in turmoil after the breakdown of government'.
    – Pete855217
    Commented Jun 16, 2013 at 10:25

The proper word is ambipathy, a mixture of sympathy and antipathy, of attraction and repulsion.

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    This describes a particular kind of conflict, so doesn't fit the OP's bill. Also, it is a coined word that has little or no currency, possibly invented here. And, your definition seems to have been taken from Urban Dictionary without attribution. ... Welcome to EL&U. :-)
    – MetaEd
    Commented Jan 29, 2013 at 0:16

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