du·​plic·​i·​tous | \ du̇-ˈpli-sə-təs How to pronounce duplicitous (audio) also dyu̇- \

Definition of duplicitous

: marked by duplicity : deceptive in words or action duplicitous tactics

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Other Words from duplicitous

duplicitously adverb

How to Remember What Duplicity Means

The idea of doubleness is at the core of duplicity. Duplicity comes from a Latin word meaning "double" or "twofold," and its original meaning in English has to do with a kind of deception in which you intentionally hide your true feelings or intentions behind false words or actions. If you are being duplicitous there are two yous: the one you're showing and the one you're hiding. And—key to the idea of duplicity—you're hiding that you in order to make people believe something that's not true.

The word is found in many works of literature, including the Bible:

The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.
— Proverbs 11:3 (New International Version)

Even when he sat opposite me in the kitchen, talking, he would turn his head a little toward the clock or the stove and look at me from the side, but with frankness and good nature. This trick did not suggest duplicity or secretiveness….
— Willa Cather, My Antonia, 1918

Arch read it at breakfast the day it came out and again that night. He admired its art but was most, affected, and in fact discomfited, by its unblinking inventory of self-seeking and duplicity.
— Tobias Wolff, Old School, 2003

Examples of duplicitous in a Sentence

warned her not to trust the duplicitous art dealer
Recent Examples on the Web Countless efforts to defuse the crisis showed initial promise and then collapsed—Emperor Honorius, based in Ravenna, proved pigheaded and duplicitous. Cullen Murphy, The Atlantic, "The Man Who Sacked Rome," 9 June 2020 Along the way, some people who dealt with her found her duplicitous and deceitful, while others found her a heroic survivor. Anchorage Daily News, "Biden accuser’s life marred by abuse and financial hardship," 22 May 2020 Lovers are sometimes the duplicitous parties, as in Oil Lamps (1971), a period drama set in a claustrophobic backwater. Jeremy Lybarger, The New York Review of Books, "The Mordant Fables of Juraj Herz," 20 Apr. 2020 Born as the upscale derivative of the classless Volkswagen Golf, the Audi A3 has led a bit of a duplicitous life. Jens Meiners, Car and Driver, "The 2020 Audi A3 Sportback TDI Gives Us a Taste of What's Coming," 10 Apr. 2020 Henry Golding costars as Emily's author husband, impossibly dashing and possibly duplicitous. Isaac Feldberg, Fortune, "What to watch on Amazon Prime while social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic," 27 Mar. 2020 In West Wing–focused shows that would come after The West Wing itself—among them House of Cards and Veep—press secretaries are generally dismissed either as duplicitous or simply as dupes. Megan Garber, The Atlantic, "Desperately Seeking C.J.," 25 Sep. 2019 The team also found several duplicitous lifelike objects, which served as a different reminder: There are things in extreme environments that an observer could be fooled into thinking are biological. Robin George Andrews, New York Times, "They Didn’t Find Life in a Hopeless Place," 1 Nov. 2019 Cambridge Analytica obtained user data through duplicitous means, but similar data sets are widely and legally available; micro-targeting is commonplace on nearly all political campaigns. Brian Barth, The New Yorker, "Big Tech’s Big Defector," 25 Nov. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'duplicitous.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of duplicitous

1928, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for duplicitous

see duplicity

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Time Traveler for duplicitous

Time Traveler

The first known use of duplicitous was in 1928

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Statistics for duplicitous

Last Updated

18 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Duplicitous.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/duplicitous. Accessed 5 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for duplicitous


du·​plic·​i·​tous | \ dü-ˈpli-sə-təs, dyü- How to pronounce duplicitous (audio) \

Legal Definition of duplicitous

: marked by duplicity a duplicitous indictment

More from Merriam-Webster on duplicitous

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for duplicitous

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with duplicitous

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