equivocal

adjective
equiv·​o·​cal | \ i-ˈkwi-və-kəl How to pronounce equivocal (audio) \

Definition of equivocal

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

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Other Words from equivocal

equivocality \ i-​ˌkwi-​və-​ˈka-​lə-​tē How to pronounce equivocality (audio) \ noun
equivocally \ i-​ˈkwi-​və-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce equivocally (audio) \ adverb
equivocalness \ i-​ˈkwi-​və-​kəl-​nəs How to pronounce equivocalness (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for equivocal

obscure, dark, vague, enigmatic, cryptic, ambiguous, equivocal mean not clearly understandable. obscure implies a hiding or veiling of meaning through some inadequacy of expression or withholding of full knowledge. obscure poems dark implies an imperfect or clouded revelation often with ominous or sinister suggestion. muttered dark hints of revenge vague implies a lack of clear formulation due to inadequate conception or consideration. a vague sense of obligation enigmatic stresses a puzzling, mystifying quality. enigmatic occult writings cryptic implies a purposely concealed meaning. cryptic hints of hidden treasure ambiguous applies to language capable of more than one interpretation. an ambiguous directive equivocal applies to language left open to differing interpretations with the intention of deceiving or evading. moral precepts with equivocal phrasing

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web There is, however, nothing equivocal about the way Americans in particular and history writ large view things. Jeffrey Kluger, Time, "NASA Saw Apollo 13 as a Fiasco. 50 Years Later, Astronaut Jim Lovell Has Made Peace With the 'Successful Failure'," 10 Apr. 2020 Policy makers need to be aware of the equivocal evidence when considering school closures for COVID-19, and that combinations of social distancing measures should be considered. Author: Valerie Strauss, Anchorage Daily News, "When will schools reopen? It depends on where you live, who’s in charge and whether they believe Anthony Fauci.," 14 Apr. 2020 There are no large-scale clinical trials proving that personal use of masks can prevent pandemic spread; and the ones that look at masks and influenza have produced equivocal results. Hilda Bastian, Wired, "The Face Mask Debate Reveals a Scientific Double Standard," 8 Apr. 2020 Still, Saudi Arabia’s response to Trump’s plan was equivocal, at best. Joseph Hincks, Time, "Trump’s Plan for Middle East Peace Hinges on Support From Arab Leaders. That's Looking Unlikely," 29 Jan. 2020 And to date, the small amount of data generated by CYNK-001 in several types of cancer have been equivocal. Adam Feuerstein, STAT, "Rudy Giuliani wants FDA to fast-track a stem cell therapy for Covid-19; critics see political meddling," 31 Mar. 2020 And by foregrounding the creature’s experience and delaying the violence, Bernays solicits our empathy for him — a provocative choice, as Shelley skews a lot more equivocal. Alexis Soloski, New York Times, "Review: ‘Dracula’ and ‘Frankenstein’? Nothing to Be Scared Of," 17 Feb. 2020 Still others, like caffeine and citrulline malate, have more equivocal evidence. Sara Chodosh, Popular Science, "There are only two supplements proven to help you build muscle," 3 Jan. 2019 Except for the brief and equivocal Jimmy Carter interval, the result was an ever more rightward-moving turn in American politics for the next quarter century. Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, "Learning to Love Bernie Sanders, or Trying To," 3 Mar. 2020

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.

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First Known Use of equivocal

1599, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for equivocal

Late Latin aequivocus, from aequi- equi- + voc-, vox voice — more at voice

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Time Traveler for equivocal

Time Traveler

The first known use of equivocal was in 1599

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Cite this Entry

“Equivocal.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/equivocal. Accessed 7 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for equivocal

equivocal

adjective
How to pronounce equivocal (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of equivocal

formal
: having two or more possible meanings
: not easily understood or explained

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