A word, phrase, or sentence is ambiguous if it has more than one meaning or is open to interpretation. For example, the meaning of the word, light, can be not very dark or not very heavy. Similarly, the statement, "Place the box on the table by the window in the kitchen," is ambiguous because it can be interpreted in more than one way..
An ambiguity differs from vagueness. A word or phrase is vague if the boundaries of its meaning are not sharply defined. That is, the concept is insufficiently precise to enable us to reach a conclusion.
Several examples of ambiguities appear below. Some appeared as newspaper headlines.
I saw her duck.
He was a Tibetan history teacher
The girl hit the boy with the hat
He left her behind for you
Prostitutes appeal to the Pope
Visiting relatives can be boring
'The turkey is ready to eat
I'd like to see more of you
Stolen painting discovered by tree
Queen Elizabeth II has bottom scraped
Milk drinkers turn to powder
Two ships collide, one dies
Red tape holds up new bridge
The police shot the rioters with guns.
He ate the cookies on the couch