- When no one is sure what caused a fire to start, this is an example of when the cause is indeterminate.
- When you add a pinch of sugar to a recipe but there's no set amount, this is an example of when the amount is indeterminate.
- When a person is on probation until his behavior indicates he has become a law abiding citizen, this is an example of an indeterminate sentence.
The definition of indeterminate is something vague or not established.
- not determinate; specif.,
- inexact in its limits, nature, etc.; indefinite; uncertain; vague: an indeterminate amount
- not yet settled, concluded, or known; doubtful or inconclusive
- Bot. racemose
Origin of indeterminateLate Latin indeterminatus
- a. Not precisely determined, determinable, or established: a person of indeterminate age.b. Not precisely fixed, as to extent, size, nature, or number: an indeterminate number of plant species in the jungle.c. Lacking clarity or precision, as in meaning; vague: an indeterminate turn of phrase.d. Not fixed or known in advance: an indeterminate future.e. Not leading up to a definite result or ending: an indeterminate campaign.
- Botany Not terminating in a flower and continuing to grow at the apex: an indeterminate inflorescence.
- Mathematics Having more than one variable and an infinite number of solutions, such as the equation 5x2 + 3y = 10.
Origin of indeterminateMiddle English, from Latin ind&emacron;terminatus : in-, not; see in–1 + d&emacron;terminatus, determined; see determinate.
- in′de·ter′mi·nate·ness, in′de·ter′mi·na′tion
(comparative more indeterminate, superlative most indeterminate)