weasel word


: a word used in order to evade or retreat from a direct or forthright statement or position

Did you know?

Some people believe that weasels can suck the insides out of an egg without damaging the shell. An egg thus weasel-treated would look fine on the outside, but it would actually be empty and useless. We don't know if weasels can really do that, but the belief that they could caused people to start using "weasel word" to refer to any term intended to give the impression that everything is fine when the speaker is really trying to avoid answering a question, telling the truth, or taking the blame for something.

Examples of weasel word in a Sentence

“Reorganization” is just a weasel word that the company is using to say that jobs are being eliminated.
Recent Examples on the Web Far too much happens in the shadows or is obfuscated by weasel words. Lily Hay Newman, WIRED, 5 Dec. 2023 To be sure — three of my favorite weasel words — being able to sit on an inherited IRA for up to 10 years without being required to take annual distributions isn’t ungenerous. Allan Sloan, Washington Post, 14 Feb. 2020

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

Word History


from the weasel's reputed habit of sucking the contents out of an egg while leaving the shell superficially intact

First Known Use

1900, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of weasel word was in 1900


Dictionary Entries Near weasel word

Cite this Entry

“Weasel word.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/weasel%20word. Accessed 10 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition

weasel word

: a word used in order to mislead a person or to avoid a straight answer
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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