• equivocal
  • audio pronunciation
  • \ih-KWIV-uh-kul\
  • DEFINITION

adjective

1
a : subject to two or more interpretations and usually used to mislead or confuse b : uncertain as an indication or sign
2
a : of uncertain nature or classification b : of uncertain disposition toward a person or thing : undecided c : of doubtful advantage, genuineness, or moral rectitude
  • EXAMPLES

Unfortunately, scientists have yet to develop an effective means of early detection for the disease; the tests that are currently available tend to produce equivocal results.

"Schneider was equivocal on whether he thought the replacement officials working the game should have ruled the play a catch instead of an interception…." — From an article by Pete Dougherty in the Green Bay Press-Gazette, February 21, 2013

  • DID YOU KNOW?

"Equivocal," "vague," and "ambiguous" all mean "not clearly understandable" and are used to describe confusing speech or writing. "Equivocal"—which can be traced back to the Latin prefix "aequi-" ("equi-") and the Latin word "vox" ("voice")—applies to language left open to differing interpretations with the intention of deceiving or evading ("moral precepts with equivocal phrasing"). "Vague" implies a lack of clear formulation due to inadequate conception or consideration ("I had only a vague idea of how to get there"). "Ambiguous," like "equivocal," applies to language capable of more than one interpretation but usually does not have the negative connotations of deception or evasion ("the poet's wording is intentionally ambiguous").

Word Family Quiz: What member of the "vox" family means "to call together to a meeting"? The answer is …

  • MORE WORDS OF THE DAY

Visit our archives to see previous selections ยป

  • FEATURED ITEM FROM OUR STORE
  • PODCAST

Theme music by Joshua Stamper ©2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP

  • SUBSCRIBE

Subscribe to the Word of the Day e-mail

Manage Your Account