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 Dec 2 '13 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! – Scott Brown Nov 24 '11 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 Nov 24 '11 at 14:23
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    No ambivalence there then ;) – Polynomial Nov 24 '11 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. – Monica Cellio Nov 24 '11 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 Nov 24 '11 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 Nov 24 '11 at 14:11
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    torn is an adjective... – yuttadhammo Nov 24 '11 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 Nov 24 '11 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. – Edwin Ashworth Apr 18 '20 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 Aug 31 '14 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. – andy256 Dec 27 '14 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. – Eliah Kagan Nov 25 '11 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 Jun 16 '13 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 Jan 29 '13 at 0:16

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