ter·​gi·​ver·​sa·​tion | \ ˌtər-ˌji-vər-ˈsā-shən How to pronounce tergiversation (audio) , -ˌgi-; ˌtər-ji-(ˌ)vər- \

Definition of tergiversation

1 : evasion of straightforward action or clear-cut statement : equivocation
2 : desertion of a cause, position, party, or faith

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The Latin verb tergiversari means "to show reluctance," and it comes from the combination of tergum, meaning "back," and versare, meaning "to turn." Tergiversari gave English the noun tergiversation and the verb tergiversate ("to engage in tergiversation"). Tergiversation is the slightly older term, having been around since at least 1570; the first known use of tergiversate dates from 1590. There's also the much rarer adjective tergiversant ("tending to evade"), as well as the noun tergiversator ("one that tergiversates").

Examples of tergiversation in a Sentence

like most politicians, he has the gift for tergiversation

First Known Use of tergiversation

1570, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of tergiversation was in 1570

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Cite this Entry

“Tergiversation.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tergiversation. Accessed 24 Jan. 2021.

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