I recently received a newsletter from an entity I previously thought to be credible which is embarking on a brand/campaign around the concept of ambition which makes me wonder if my understanding of the word is "off".

Can the following be examples of Ambition?

  • Starting a new hobby.
  • Getting out for a walk on the beach.

I would have thought that while the above are goals/things a person may strive for - they are not ambitions because they are not substantive enough to qualify as an ambition.

Similarly I see an ambition is a goal you strive to reach, while the "Ambition" campaign in question is about the journey (and indeed with no expectation of completing the journey)

In other words I think "Planting a new garden" would qualify, but "Planting some plants in my garden" would not, or "Completing a marathon" would qualify, but "getting out for a walk on the beach wouldn't".

Do I misunderstand the meaning of the word?

  • 1
    Have you tried looking up the word in a dictionary?
    – alphabet
    Jul 7, 2023 at 1:25
  • @alphabet - Of-course. Multiple dictionaries. The dictionaries I have looked at don't clarify the nuance I'm looking for, For example, Mirriam-webster defines it as a noun as "an ardent desire for rank, fame, or power" or "desire to achieve a particular end", but under verb they say "to have as one's ambition : desire".
    – davidgo
    Jul 7, 2023 at 1:38
  • 1
    If you've not been out of your house in months, then going for a walk might be an ambition, but I agree it doesn't match the normal usage: the examples in Merriam-Webster are becoming a "successful actress" and starting a business. Maybe there was a particular context to the brand's messaging.
    – Stuart F
    Jul 7, 2023 at 8:30
  • I am surprised that you think that an advert might be a good example of use. Adverts are there to help you give your money to someone – they are unconcerned with accuracy. You should accept Merriam-Webster’s definition. An ambition is merely a state that one has not yet achieved but that one has a desire (in varying degrees) to achieve. Consider meaning in context: "The incompetence of our accountant is the elephant in the room." -- "When he entered the room, I saw he was an elephant of a man." -- "Elephants live in Africa." --- Now give me an accurate and exact definition of "elephant."
    – Greybeard
    Jul 7, 2023 at 9:58
  • @greybeard - yes, except the company - a large financial fund provider - lead with "most people dont know what ambition means" and then spouted what has now confirmed to be BS. If that is the level of care they take when assessing investments it says to me they are not credible and maybe to not trust them with my money.
    – davidgo
    Jul 8, 2023 at 3:20


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