Literally: exist – [interrogative particle] – not – [interrogative particle]
Alternately: Vague; unclear; noncommittal; unsettled; indefinite; obscure. It’s not clear whether something is, or is not there, or in a certain state, etc.
Notes: 曖昧模糊 and 五里霧中 are both considered synonyms; 一目瞭然 is an antonym.
This phrase is attributed to our friend, the Buddhist-monk biography anthology The Transmission of the Lamp (Japanese 『景徳傳燈録』 = Keitoku dentouroku). The compound may also be given native-Japanese reading ari ya nashi ya, although this is rare.
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