tem·​po·​rize | \ ˈtem-pə-ˌrīz How to pronounce temporize (audio) \
temporized; temporizing

Definition of temporize

intransitive verb

1 : to act to suit the time or occasion : yield to current or dominant opinion
2 : to draw out discussions or negotiations so as to gain time you'd have to temporize until you found out how she wanted to be advised— Mary Austin

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Other Words from temporize

temporization \ ˌtem-​pə-​rə-​ˈzā-​shən How to pronounce temporize (audio) \ noun
temporizer noun

Is it Time to temporize?

Temporize comes from the Medieval Latin verb temporizare ("to pass the time"), which itself comes from the Latin noun tempus, meaning "time." "Tempus" is also the root of such words as "tempo," "contemporary," and "temporal." If you need to buy some time, you might resort to temporizing - but you probably won't win admiration for doing so. "Temporize" can have a somewhat negative connotation. For instance, a political leader faced with a difficult issue might temporize by talking vaguely about possible solutions without actually doing anything. The point of such temporizing is to avoid taking definite - and possibly unpopular - action, in hopes that the problem will somehow go away. But the effect is often just to make matters worse.

Examples of temporize in a Sentence

Pressured by voters on both sides of the issue, the congressmen temporized.
Recent Examples on the Web But in the aftermath of the Georgia victories, which gave their party control of the Senate, congressional Democrats were in no mood to temporize. Los Angeles Times, 13 Apr. 2021 Otherwise, the overriding temptation will be to delay, to temporize. Noam Cohen, WIRED, 18 July 2019 Successive political generations of leaders of nuclear powers have temporized impotently or even mischievously assisted these elements, as Pakistan has assisted Iran and North Korea, who have assisted each other. Conrad Black, National Review, 21 Sep. 2017 This is a president who, when Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons on his people, did not temporize. Aaron Blake, Washington Post, 5 July 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'temporize.' 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 temporize

1579, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for temporize

borrowed from Middle French temporiser, temporisier "to last, pass one's life, postpone, gain time," probably borrowed from Medieval Latin temporizāre "to delay," from Latin tempor-, tempus "time, period of time" + Medieval Latin -izāre -ize — more at tempo

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Time Traveler for temporize

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The first known use of temporize was in 1579

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Last Updated

21 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Temporize.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/temporize. Accessed 13 Jun. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of temporize

formal : to avoid making a decision or giving a definite answer in order to have more time

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