What is AMBIGUITY?

Doubtfulness; doubleness of meaning; indistinctness or uncertainty of meaning of an expression used in a written instrument. Ninrlle v. State Bank, 13 Neb. 245, 13 N. W. 275; Ellmaker v. Ellmaker, 4 Watts (I’a.) 89; Kraner v. Ilalsey, 82 Cal. 209, 22 Pac. 1137; Ward v. Epsy, 6 Humph. (Tenn.) 447. An ambiguity may be either latent or patent. It is the former, where the language employed Is clear and intelligible and suggests but a single meaning, but some extrinsic fact or extraneous evidence creates a necessity for interpretation or a choice among two or more possible meanings. But a patent ambiguity is that which appears on the face of the instrument, and arises from the defective, obscure, or insensible language used. Carter v. Holman, 60 Mo. 504; Brown v. Guice, 46 Miss. 302; Stokeley v. Gordon, 8 Md. 505; Chambers v. Iiingstaff, 09 Ala. 140; Hawkins v. Garland, 76 Va. 152, 44 Am. Rep. 158; Hand v. Hoffman, 8 N. J. Law, 71; Ives v. Kimball, 1 Mich. 313; Palmer v. Albee, 50 Iowa, 431; Petrie v. Hamilton College, 158 N. Y. 458, 53 N. E. 216. Synonyms. Ambiguity of language is to be distinguished from unintelligibility and inaccuracy, for words cannot be said to be ambiguous unless their signification seems doubtful and uncertain to persons of competent skill and knowledge to understand them. Story, Contr. 272. The term “ambiguity” does not include mere inaccuracy, or such uncertainty as arises from the use of peculiar words, or of common words in a peculiar sense. Wig. Wills, 174.

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