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

Definition of equivocate

intransitive verb

1 : to use equivocal language especially with intent to deceive
2 : to avoid committing oneself in what one says

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Other Words from equivocate

equivocator \ i-​ˈkwi-​və-​ˌkā-​tər How to pronounce equivocator (audio) \ 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 Trump has spoken out forcefully at times against anti-Semitism, but also has equivocated at times, notably after the deadly neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017. Ron Kampeas, sun-sentinel.com, "Survey: Nearly 90 percent of American Jews say anti-Semitism is a problem in U.S.," 23 Oct. 2019 The summary of the transcript of Trump’s phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart ought to stop his henchmen from equivocating and bloviating, but nope, writes Virginia Heffernan. Los Angeles Times, "Newsletter: Trump’s days of rage," 3 Oct. 2019 This is where sometimes talk show hosts try to equivocate. Mark Heim | Mheim@al.com, al, "Paul Finebaum apologizes for calling Miami ‘third-world program,’ after Dan Le Batard calls him out," 28 Aug. 2019 There, two-and-a-half years after voters overwhelmingly approved legalization, officials continue to equivocate and schedule seemingly endless hearings on a system for vetting cannabis companies seeking permission to open recreational stores. Dan Adams, BostonGlobe.com, "Follow the money in fight over Cambridge pot policy," 1 July 2019 The power of money to influence legislation and the thoughtlessness of the Supreme Court to equivocate money as free speech and to state that corporations have constitutional rights are mind-numbing. Letters To The Editor, The Mercury News, "Letter: 28th Amendment would address money in politics," 21 June 2019 The Warriors had their invitation for a visit with Trump rescinded after publicly equivocating about attending. Noah Bierman, latimes.com, "Spurned Trump turns the annual Super Bowl celebration into a culture war skirmish," 5 June 2018 This is, after all, the same guy who equivocated over the murder of a protestor by a white nationalist and still can claim the support of about four in 10 voters. Chris Stirewalt, Fox News, "Putin or the Democrats? For some today it's not so easy," 19 July 2018 Chinese officials equivocated over the mass detentions before a United Nations panel in August, saying minor criminals in Xinjiang had been sent to vocational schools to learn how to reintegrate into society. Josh Chin, WSJ, "China, Ending Denials, Defends Muslim Detentions as Vital for Stability," 16 Oct. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of equivocate

1590, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for equivocate

Time Traveler

The first known use of equivocate was in 1590

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Statistics for equivocate

Last Updated

18 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Equivocate.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/equivocator. Accessed 23 January 2020.

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More Definitions for equivocate


How to pronounce equivocate (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of equivocate

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

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Comments on equivocate

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


out of the ordinary or unreasonable

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