Definition of equivocal
1a : subject to two or more interpretations and usually used to mislead or confuse an equivocal statementb : uncertain as an indication or sign equivocal evidence
2a : of uncertain nature or classification equivocal shapesb : of uncertain disposition toward a person or thing : undecided an equivocal attitudec : of doubtful advantage, genuineness, or moral rectitude equivocal behavior
equivocalityplay \i-ˌkwi-və-ˈka-lə-tē\ noun
equivocallyplay \i-ˈkwi-və-k(ə-)lē\ adverb
equivocalnessplay \i-ˈkwi-və-kəl-nəs\ noun
equivocal was our Word of the Day on 04/07/2013. Hear the podcast!
Theme music by Joshua Stamper ©2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP
Examples of equivocal in a Sentence
When I go to galleries to see new art. … I don't care about what I see unless it holds my eye, and that is an almost involuntary experience; but once something has that hold on me—even in a tentative, equivocal way—other factors come into play, and I find myself reaching for analogies, ideas, theories. —Jed Perl, New Republic, 20 Mar. 2000
He [Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec] frequented the sleazy underworld of Paris, but moved in top circles too, and by virtue of his equivocal status as a landed gentleman-turned-bohemian artist, was sufficiently an outsider to be a detached observer of the diverse social classes among whom he ranged so freely. —Elizabeth Cowling, Times Literary Supplement, 8 Nov. 1991
… in the past, photographs of real situations in color have invited a sense of ambiguity, an element of distrust on the part of viewers, perhaps because the saturated dyes of color film seem to have an equivocal relationship to the harsher realities of social conditions. —Naomi Rosenblum, A World History of Photography, 1989
He responded to reporters' questions with equivocal answers.
The experiment produced equivocal results.
Recent Examples of equivocal from the Web
Another lawmaker in Monday's meeting, Sen. Joseph Vitale, D-Middlesex, gave an equivocal review of the conference.
The Labour leader has previously been equivocal on whether police should be able to shoot to kill terror suspects.
But the language was too equivocal to do more than annoy partisans on either side.
Mockingbird Songs contains just enough information, just enough of Lee herself, just enough, taken all in all, to transcend its equivocal participation in the ugly and no doubt unfinished fallout of its subject’s final years. —————
But the plan presented consists of a one-page sheet of paper with broad outlines and equivocal promises.
Sometimes, as with the R. & B. singer Aaliyah, or the grunge superstar Kurt Cobain, the posthumous treatment has been more equivocal.
But as the election approached, Mr. Trump grew less equivocal.
Mr. Pence at first gave an equivocal answer on Thursday regarding the senators.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'equivocal'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Synonym Discussion of equivocal
EQUIVOCAL Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of equivocal for English Language Learners
: having two or more possible meanings
: not easily understood or explained
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up equivocal? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).