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 equivocal (audio) \ noun
equivocally \ i-​ˈkwi-​və-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce equivocal (audio) \ adverb
equivocalness \ i-​ˈkwi-​və-​kəl-​nəs How to pronounce equivocal (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 Even after California adopted a good portion of Charity Dean’s action plan, via an emergency task force appointed by Newsom, with an accelerated testing-and-tracing regime, the results were equivocal over the longer term. Chris Lehmann, The New Republic, 11 May 2021 Her message and manner received equivocal assessments in the West. New York Times, 21 Mar. 2021 What’s more, official guidance is equivocal on antibodies. Kelly Servick, Science | AAAS, 16 Mar. 2021 Plus, the athletic advantage conferred by testosterone is equivocal. Jack Turban, Scientific American, 16 Mar. 2021 Whatever Flynn precisely said, American graffiti penned onto the blue wall of a portable toilet that Eric Whyne, a U.S. Marine captain, saw around that time was less equivocal. Simon Akam, The Atlantic, 20 Feb. 2021 Washington has always been equivocal about the United Nations; at their best, U.N. members have rallied to vanquish the Taliban and repair the ravages of natural disasters. John Mcwhorter, Washington Post, 15 Jan. 2021 Britain has sought to balance its commitments to its European neighbors and its American patron, while being critical of Russia, equivocal on Iran and accommodating to China. Dominic Green, WSJ, 27 Dec. 2020 Rivera was privately equivocal about the reasons for his departure. Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, 9 Nov. 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

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The first known use of equivocal was in 1599

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Last Updated

15 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Equivocal.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/equivocal. Accessed 19 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for equivocal

equivocal

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of equivocal

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

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