What's the difference between aim and ambition? In my opinion, it is that we aim towards the ambition, so ambition would be a far thing and aim would be a way towards getting it. Is that correct?

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  • minor note: "aim" is also often used as a verb. – Suvrit Jan 2 '11 at 9:44
  • The non-count usages don't correspond: His ambition will be his downfall. / His aim is off. // Both His aim/ambition is to be president by the time he is 40. work. Here, perhaps 'aim' suggests more the detailed steps he has planned to achieve this, as I think you're saying. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 1 '17 at 23:54

define: ambition on google returns two general definitions:

a cherished desire; "his ambition is to own his own business"


a strong drive for success

i.e., it can either mean that which you strive to achieve/acquire, or, if you "have" ambition, you have a driving need for success, you are very motivated.

Aim, on the other hand, only has one meaning, the same as #1 above.

Intention, purpose, goal.

You're aim or ambition could be to start your own company, but you could only have great ambition to start that company (i.e., you are very motivated to do so). Hope this helps. :)

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    Aim is a neutral, more general word; ambition is restricted to aiming at success in society or the like. – Cerberus Jan 2 '11 at 3:32
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    cool... so aim could be something such as "I'm aiming to hike twelve miles today"? – kalaracey Jan 2 '11 at 12:44

The noun aim has several synonyms such as goal, objective, of which ambition is the grandest in scale and desire - one has ambitions for one's career, or personal life. An aim is also something one wishes to achieve, but is much shorter in term, and can be much greater in number.

In contrast, the verb to aim describes actions that may contribute towards the fulfilment of one's ambition - "I'm aiming to become a qualified instructor; my ambition is to be self-employed one day."

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