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>
equivocalityplay \i-ˌkwi-və-ˈka-lə-tē\ noun
equivocallyplay \i-ˈkwi-və-k(ə-)lē\ adverb
equivocalnessplay \i-ˈkwi-və-kəl-nəs\ noun
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.
Origin and Etymology of equivocal
Late Latin aequivocus, from aequi- equi- + voc-, vox voice — more at voice
First Known Use: 1599
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
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