equiv·​o·​cate i-ˈkwi-və-ˌkāt How to pronounce equivocate (audio)
equivocated; equivocating

intransitive verb

: to use equivocal language especially with intent to deceive
: to avoid committing oneself in what one says
equivocator noun
Choose the Right Synonym for equivocate

lie, prevaricate, equivocate, palter, fib mean to tell an untruth.

lie is the blunt term, imputing dishonesty.

lied about where he had been

prevaricate softens the bluntness of lie by implying quibbling or confusing the issue.

during the hearings the witness did his best to prevaricate

equivocate implies using words having more than one sense so as to seem to say one thing but intend another.

equivocated endlessly in an attempt to mislead her inquisitors

palter implies making unreliable statements of fact or intention or insincere promises.

a swindler paltering with his investors

fib applies to a telling of a trivial untruth.

fibbed about the price of the new suit

Examples of equivocate in a Sentence

The applicant seemed to be equivocating when we asked him about his last job. When asked about her tax plan, the candidate didn't equivocate.
Recent Examples on the Web Perhaps Ramaswamy was equivocating with the audience, secretly recognizing that the failure to recognize the urgency of the crisis is behind the inadequate policies hastening our demise. Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times, 24 Aug. 2023 Don’t equivocate, give an honest opinion but do it with kindness. Anna Kaufman, USA TODAY, 23 Aug. 2023 South Africa’s government equivocated, too, refusing to outright condemn Putin’s regime while bemoaning the war’s ripple effects on supply chains critical to African societies. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, 22 Aug. 2023 Weil was neither indicting nor exempting herself, but rather occupying a middle ground where people, for whatever reasons, good or bad, equivocate. Lawrence Jackson, Harper's Magazine, 10 July 2023 On the world stage, his defeat could lead to a healthier relationship between Turkey and the West, unfreeze Turkey’s block on Sweden’s accession into NATO, and shift Turkey’s equivocating stance on the war between Russia and Ukraine closer to the NATO consensus. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, 10 May 2023 But Chou — with Emily’s List, which endorsed Laufer — said the issue is too hot for equivocating. Gregory S. Schneider, Washington Post, 8 June 2023 In February, as Russian tanks rolled across the Ukrainian border and Russian missiles rained down on Ukrainian cities, India equivocated. Shashi Tharoor, Foreign Affairs, 27 Apr. 2022 Unlike Hamilton, or E. O. Wilson, Maynard Smith was careful to equivocate or avoid delicate issues of social consequence, even if scientifically his own work may have supported explosive inferences. Razib Khan, Discover Magazine, 21 Mar. 2013 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'equivocate.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1590, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of equivocate was in 1590

Dictionary Entries Near equivocate

Cite this Entry

“Equivocate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/equivocate. Accessed 28 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


equiv·​o·​cate i-ˈkwiv-ə-ˌkāt How to pronounce equivocate (audio)
equivocated; equivocating
: to use equivocal language especially to deceive
also : to avoid giving a definite answer
equivocation noun
equivocator noun

More from Merriam-Webster on equivocate

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