ambitious 1 Ambitious, emulous both mean extremely desirous of something that will give one power, fame, success, or riches.
Ambitious often implies inordinate, sometimes presumptuous, eagerness to advance oneself or to attain something beyond one’s present reach; it may, in addition, connote aggressiveness in the pursuit of one’s ends

the noble Brutus hath told you Caesar was ambitious: if it were so, it was a grievous fault— Shak.

Emulous stresses the desire to equal or surpass others; it can suggest covetous rivalry or merely the spirit of competition

men of pedigree . . . emulous always of the nearest place to any throne, except the throne of grace— Cowper

Analogous words: *eager, avid, anxious, keen: aspiring, panting, aiming (see AIM vb): daring, venturesome, *adventurous
Antonyms: unambitious
Contrasted words: apathetic, phlegmatic, stolid (see IMPASSIVE): indolent, faineant, slothful, *lazy
2 Ambitious, pretentious, utopian are comparable when they are applied to such matters as plans, designs, programs, or policies and mean straining or exceeding the capacity of their authors or executants.
Something is ambitious which is either so far beyond what can with certainty be accomplished that its realization or execution is doubtful or which, if realized, is accomplished only by excessive effort or by testing one’s powers to the utmost

the philosopher has the ambitious aim of unifying, or harmonizing, these points of view— Inge


his last novel was his most ambitious and possibly his best

Something is pretentious which so far exceeds one’s powers or resources that any attempt to carry it out reveals one’s inadequacy, inexperience, or lack of sufficient skill; in this sense it often but not necessarily implies ostentation

the program was too pretentious for so young a violinist

Something is utopian which is utterly impracticable or unattainable under present or sometimes, any conditions. Utopian, if it does not suggest an idealistic approach, invariably implies indifference to actualities

the reformers started out with an ambitious program which its critics called utopian; time has shown that it was too pretentious

Analogous words: audacious, bold (see BRAVE): daring (see ADVENTUROUS): ostentatious, *showy
Antonyms: modest
Contrasted words: lowly, *humble: *moderate, temperate

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

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