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

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

Blair thinks Vanessa is being duplicitous in helping Serena, but none of them do anything about it. Elizabeth Logan, Glamour, "Every Single Episode of Gossip Girl, Ranked," 19 Sep. 2018 Others questioned what his tolerance level would be for the game within the game, duplicitous to the level of dirty, according to recent allegations and reports. Harvey Araton, New York Times, "Chris Mullin Preaches the Power of One Day at a Time," 6 Mar. 2018 For Brexit to succeed we must get rid of this awful, duplicitous PM. Natasha Bach, Fortune, "The U.K. Brexit Secretary Has Quit Just Days Before Trump Visits Embattled PM Theresa May. Here's What It Means," 9 July 2018 The rhetoric of the NFFA is just passable enough to seem plausible, chiefly conveyed by actor Patch Darragh as a doughy, duplicitous chief of staff who wears his arrogant privilege like another tacky lapel pin. Mark Olsen, latimes.com, "Review: 'The First Purge' delivers genre pleasures with a timely message of resilience," 3 July 2018 The Iranians we exquisitely duplicitous in steering everybody way from anything that was interesting to look at under their agreement that was signed then happily taken apart by President Trump. Fox News, "Woolsey: Trump keeps the North Koreans off balance," 12 June 2018 Aside from the unusual attribution of chivalrous motives to Donald Trump, Cramer seems to be ignoring the inherently duplicitous approach taken to incumbents from the other party by people in the White House who might need their votes. Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, "North Dakota’s GOP Senate Candidate Complains That Trump Is Being Too Nice to a Democrat," 12 June 2018 The disappearance of an investigative journalist and an attack on Dupin lead him to scrutinize bad business in the lucrative and sometimes duplicitous salt trade. Adam Woog, The Seattle Times, "If you can’t get to France, maybe these set-in France crime novels will tide you over?," 5 June 2018 In the film’s opening moments, the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) tangles with the duplicitous Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) in the Mirror Dimension. Valerie Kalfrin, The Hollywood Reporter, "The Shot Turning the Marvel Universe Upside Down," 5 May 2018

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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The first known use of duplicitous was in 1928

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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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with duplicitous

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for duplicitous

Comments on duplicitous

What made you want to look up duplicitous? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to reflect, repel, echo, or resound

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