equivocate

verb equiv·o·cate \ i-ˈkwi-və-ˌkāt \
Updated on: 17 Nov 2017

Definition of equivocate

equivocated; equivocating
intransitive verb
1 : to use equivocal language especially with intent to deceive
2 : to avoid committing oneself in what one says

equivocation

play \i-ˌkwi-və-ˈkā-shən\ noun

equivocator

play \i-ˈkwi-və-ˌkā-tər\ noun

Examples of equivocate in a Sentence

  1. The applicant seemed to be equivocating when we asked him about his last job.

  2. When asked about her tax plan, the candidate didn't equivocate.

Recent Examples of equivocate from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'equivocate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

When Should You Use equivocal?

With its root equi-, meaning "equal", equivocate suggests speaking on both sides of an issue at the same time. An equivocal answer is one that manages not to take a stand; an unequivocal answer, by contrast, is strong and clear. Politicians are famous for equivocating, but equivocation is also typical of used-car salesmen, nervous witnesses in a courtroom, and guys whose girlfriends ask them how committed they are to a relationship.

First Known Use of equivocate

1590

equivocate Synonyms

Synonyms
fudge, hedge, pussyfoot, tergiversate, waffle, weasel, beat around (or about) the bush, hem and haw, straddle the fence
Related Words
flip-flop, yo-yo; dodge, duck, elude, eschew, evade, shake, shirk, shun, sidestep, skirt; bypass, circumvent; cavil, quibble; straddle

Synonym Discussion of 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

EQUIVOCATE Defined for English Language Learners

equivocate

verb

Definition of equivocate for English Language Learners

  • : to use unclear language especially to deceive or mislead someone



Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up equivocate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

food, provisions, or a tasty dish

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Find the Cousins

  • a-large-tree-with-many-branches
  • Which pair shares a common word ancestor?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!