Take Our 10-Question Quiz
evasion of straightforward action or clear-cut statement : equivocation
About the word:
The Latin ancestors of tergiversation (tergum, meaning "back"; vertere, meaning "to turn") together translate roughly as "to turn one's back." Since the 16th century, tergiversation has described the reversal or desertion of a position or cause.
Nowadays, it turns up in diplomatic or political discussions. As the late word maven William Safire explained of the related verb, tergiversate, in 2004, "When engaged in by a politician you oppose, the verb tergiversate, pronounced with a soft g, is a choice favored by pedants, meaning 'to switch sides like an apostate.'"