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 The cultural effects of having a duplicitous leader at the helm are far-reaching. Stephanie Hartman, Forbes, 25 May 2021 Rather, the borders of tribal nations, repeatedly hemmed in by duplicitous colonizing powers, now have the ability to grow, depending on the limited cooperation of American courts and governments. Nick Martin, The New Republic, 7 May 2021 The process was more contentious, combative, and duplicitous than was previously understood. Ben Bradlee, The New Yorker, 8 Apr. 2021 Grace starred as the duplicitous serial killer Edwin in the film from director Nimród Antal. Jolie Lash, EW.com, 9 Apr. 2021 References abound to his limited intelligence, his duplicitous nature, his obvious guilt. New York Times, 8 Apr. 2021 Whereas Penelope is complex, and smart, and funny and daring, and duplicitous. Maureen Lee Lenker, EW.com, 28 Dec. 2020 Here’s hoping that Thurston and Young’s relationships don’t end with an engagement to a cheating dog-food-jingle writer, a duplicitous Michael Strahan wannabe, an alleged stalker, or a Blue Lives Matter enthusiast. Devon Ivie, Vulture, 15 Mar. 2021 Katie isn’t alone in dealing with duplicitous, albeit well-meaning older relatives. Danielle Campoamor, Glamour, 23 Nov. 2020

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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Learn More About duplicitous

Time Traveler for duplicitous

Time Traveler

The first known use of duplicitous was in 1928

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Statistics for duplicitous

Last Updated

7 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Duplicitous.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/duplicitous. Accessed 23 Jun. 2021.

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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


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