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Equivocation   /ɪkwɪvəkˈeɪʃən/   Listen
Equivocation

noun
1.
A statement that is not literally false but that cleverly avoids an unpleasant truth.  Synonym: evasion.
2.
Intentionally vague or ambiguous.  Synonyms: evasiveness, prevarication.
3.
Falsification by means of vague or ambiguous language.  Synonym: tergiversation.






WordNet 3.0 © 2010 Princeton University








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"Equivocation" Quotes from Famous Books



... credit on the Institute. Even Mistress Phillips, to whom they owed vast sums, exhilarated by the exuberant spirits and youthful freshness of her guests, declared that the sight of "them young things" did her good; and had even been known to shield them by shameless equivocation. ...
— Tales of the Argonauts • Bret Harte

... the date of the text, and if true, the date of the title-page (1630) must be either a misprint or an equivocation on the part of the author. Or this instance and the several others similar to it may have been added by Medina to his manuscript after he had completed it to the date of the title-page; or they may be due to a ...
— The Philippine Islands, 1493-1898, Volume XXIII, 1629-30 • Various

... in the plain and literal sense of the words. "I am henceforth," he said, "in doubt and fear, as much as an honest man can be, concerning every word Dr. Newman may write. How can I tell, that I shall not be the dupe of some cunning equivocation, of one of the three kinds laid down as permissible by the blessed St. Alfonso da Liguori and his pupils, even when confirmed with an oath, because 'then we do not deceive our neighbour, but allow him ...
— Apologia Pro Vita Sua • John Henry Cardinal Newman

... of course the merit of simplicity, transparency, and finality. The decrees, the punishments and rewards are given with some clearness and are easily understood; there is no appeal and little equivocation. They served a useful purpose in the earlier ages of civilisation, but cannot solve the problem for the complex civilisation and advanced culture of the present age. They place God too far from man, and attribute to man powers which he cannot ...
— Rudolph Eucken • Abel J. Jones

... It is a leading question; one he had not expected; but he will not stoop to the faintest equivocation. Still, he wants ...
— A War-Time Wooing - A Story • Charles King

... be perfectly willing to do anything which would take away the edge of this thing for the family, but the truth's the truth, and I can't see any room for equivocation between you and me. As I've said before, these relationships are involved with things which make it impossible to discuss them—unfair to me, unfair to the woman. No one can see how they are to be handled, except the people that ...
— Jennie Gerhardt - A Novel • Theodore Dreiser

... not of my friend, Phoenix's opinion but I am not with my friend Sapor either. I do not believe that the party is bound to embrace a cause as soon as we are told that that cause is just. That, I am afraid, is a grievous abuse of words and a dangerous equivocation. For social justice is not revolutionary justice. They are both in perpetual antagonism: to serve the one is to oppose the other. As for me, my choice is made. I am for revolutionary justice as against social justice. Still, in the present case I am ...
— Penguin Island • Anatole France

... if we may trust Herodotus, was careful to avoid debt. He had a keen sense of the difficulty with which a debtor escapes subterfuge and equivocation—forms, slightly disguised, of lying. To buy and sell wares in a market place, to chaffer and haggle over prices, was distasteful to him, as apt to involve falsity and unfairness. He was free and open in speech, bold in act, generous, warm-hearted, hospitable. His chief faults were an addiction ...
— The Seven Great Monarchies Of The Ancient Eastern World, Vol 5. (of 7): Persia • George Rawlinson

... lawyer said briskly, "we want neither hesitation nor equivocation. We may as well have it from you, because if you don't like telling the truth I can put the thirty miserable lads under your charge into the ...
— Through the Fray - A Tale of the Luddite Riots • G. A. Henty

... present, and future. All my pet pens are rusty, and must be replaced from the box of stubs, for a stub pen assists one to straightforward, truthful expression, while a fine point suggests evasion, polite equivocation, or thin ideas. Even Lavinia Dorman's letters, whose cream-white envelopes, with a curlicue monogram on the flap, quite cover the litter below, have been, if possible, more satisfactory since she has adopted a fountain stub that Evan gave her ...
— People of the Whirlpool • Mabel Osgood Wright

... so carefully trained, and so early taught the difference between right and wrong, that she could not look upon her prize without being reminded of the temptation to which she had so suddenly yielded, and the equivocation to which she had resorted in order to ...
— Ruth Arnold - or, the Country Cousin • Lucy Byerley

... allusion to the traffic of the witches with the devil. After the events recorded in Act IV. sc. i., Macbeth speaks of the prophecies upon which he relies as "the equivocation of the fiend,"[3] and the prophets as "these juggling fiends;"[4] and with reason—for he has seen and heard the very devils themselves, the masters of the witches and sources of all their evil power. Every point in the play that bears upon the subject ...
— Elizabethan Demonology • Thomas Alfred Spalding

... beggars. Ay, Without equivocation, statute beggars, Couchant and passant, guardant, rampant beggars; Current and ...
— Rookwood • William Harrison Ainsworth

... "thou hast done well.—This night over, and let it end but as we hope, thy reward shall not be wanting.—And now to business.—Sir Henry Lee, undo me the secret spring of yonder picture of your ancestor. Nay, spare yourself the trouble and guilt of falsehood or equivocation, and, I say, undo me that ...
— Woodstock; or, The Cavalier • Sir Walter Scott

... said Thuillier, with authority, "let us have no equivocation; do you refuse, yes or no, to ...
— The Lesser Bourgeoisie • Honore de Balzac

... supreme excellence, than when he seems fully resolved to sink them in dejection, and mollify them with tender emotions by the fall of greatness, the danger of innocence, or the crosses of love. He is not long soft and pathetick without some idle conceit, or contemptible equivocation. He no sooner begins to move, than he counteracts himself; and terrour and pity, as they are rising in the mind, are checked and ...
— Preface to Shakespeare • Samuel Johnson

... I suspect now," was his easy equivocation. "And all that I suspect now is that some petty enemy is attempting to ...
— The Historical Nights' Entertainment • Rafael Sabatini

... sufficiently absorbed in its progress, at the end of the second act, to permit Lady Dolly to capture him before it occurred to him that he had the use of his legs. Her enthusiasm was so great that it reduced him to something like equivocation. She wanted to know if anything could be more splendid than Mr. Bradley as Lord Ingleton; she confided to Stephen that that was what she called real wickedness, the kind that did the most harm, and invited him, by inference, to a liberal judgment of stupid sinners. He sat ...
— Hilda - A Story of Calcutta • Sara Jeannette Duncan

... equivocation and delay ineffectual, the Araucanians flew to arms, and having united to the number of five hundred men under the toqui Curignancu, they proceeded to besiege Cabrito in his camp. Burgoa, who had been ...
— A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Vol. 5 • Robert Kerr

... in breed as the English, there is a fatal power of equivocation put into men's hands, almost whether they will or no, in being able to use Greek or Latin words for an idea when they want it to be awful; and Saxon or otherwise common words when they want it to be vulgar. What a singular and salutary ...
— Sesame and Lilies • John Ruskin

... seem possible, but, nevertheless, I shall prove, by quotations, that the whole theory of our author is based upon this paltry equivocation. ...
— What is Property? - An Inquiry into the Principle of Right and of Government • P. J. Proudhon

... latter seem to have been aware of it, till one of the communicants at Okkak, constrained by uneasiness of mind, confessed the whole with many tears, saving that he had grievously sinned against the Lord. The hypocrisy and equivocation which many, of whom they had hoped better things, evinced, added greatly to the anguish of the missionaries; but they had great consolation in the death of others, who departed happy in the faith to their Saviour. Among these ...
— The Moravians in Labrador • Anonymous

... was Ambassador to James VI of Scotland and in 1586 he sat as one of the commissioners on the trial of Mary, Queen of Scots. In the matter of the Rabbington Conspiracy, he is said to have "outdone the Jesuits in their own Low, and overreached them in their equivocation." He died in 1590, in ...
— The Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques and Discoveries - of the English Nation, v. 1, Northern Europe • Richard Hakluyt

... that their aerial and spiritual bodies are nourished by the smell and smoke of the blood and fat of the animals which are immolated to them; and that the office of uttering oracles replete with falsehood, equivocation, and deceit has devolved upon them. At the head of these demons he places Hecate and Serapis. Jamblichus, another pagan author, speaks of them in the same manner, and with as ...
— The Phantom World - or, The philosophy of spirits, apparitions, &c, &c. • Augustin Calmet

... work is being carried on rather than up. Our bepuzzled pedagogues are seriously reflecting over the query, Cui bono?—Is it worth while? Few, indeed, are left who have the intensity of belief and the intrepidity of spirit to defend the higher pretentions of the Negro without apology or equivocation. The old form of appeal has become insipid and uninspiring; the ear has become dull to its dinging. The old blade has become blunt and needs a new sharpness of point and keenness of edge. Where now is heard the tocsin call whose key-note ...
— Masterpieces of Negro Eloquence - The Best Speeches Delivered by the Negro from the days of - Slavery to the Present Time • Various

... families, in order to excite the laughter of their guests, and gain credit by their sayings, make use of great facetiousness in their conversation; at one time uttering their jokes in a light, easy manner, at another time, under the disguise of equivocation, passing the severest censures. For the sake of explanation I shall here subjoin a few examples. Tegeingl is the name of a province in North Wales, over which David, son of Owen, had dominion, and ...
— The Description of Wales • Geraldus Cambrensis

... conclusions of half-accomplished projects. Cynthia was often on the point of some gay, careless inquiry as to where he had been, and what he had been doing; but Molly, who conjectured the truth, as often interfered to spare him the pain of equivocation—a pain that her tender conscience would have felt for him, much more than he would ...
— Wives and Daughters • Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell

... weight with the allies, to hearken to the Ionian Embassy. It is a grave question, therefore, whether we should recall the Regent or refuse to hear these charges. Thou art fresh from Byzantium; thou must know more of this matter than we. Loose thy tongue, put aside equivocation. Say thy mind, it is for us to decide afterwards what is our ...
— Pausanias, the Spartan - The Haunted and the Haunters, An Unfinished Historical Romance • Lord Lytton

... anything would she have forced Maria into the most innocent equivocation, and she rattled on about her wonderful summer as people are expected to do after their ...
— The Sisters-In-Law • Gertrude Atherton

... no matter how unflattering, is always far more agreeable to me than equivocation, or disingenuous-ness. Does my ward believe that it will conduce to her future happiness to leave my roof, and find a ...
— Infelice • Augusta Jane Evans Wilson

... subjects [the Scots] will so countenance this Answer that I may be sure they will stick to me in what concerns my temporal power, I will not only expunge that clause, but likewise make what declarations I shall be desired against the Independents, and that really without any reserve or equivocation." This was Charles all over!—Alas! Lanark's reply was unfavourable. The Toleration clause, he wrote, was but one of the stumbling-blocks. As far as he could ascertain Scottish opinion, he dared not "promise the least countenance" to the King's ...
— The Life of John Milton Vol. 3 1643-1649 • David Masson

... and, without equivocation, offers to establish direct relations between God and man. Philosophy denies its title, and disputes its power. Why? Because they are founded on the supernatural. What is the supernatural? Can there be any thing ...
— Lothair • Benjamin Disraeli

... foundations of religion and morality have been so boldly attacked, it seems necessary, in announcing a work of this nature, to be particularly explicit as to the path which the editor means to pursue. He, therefore, avows himself to be, without equivocation or reserve, the ardent friend and the willing champion of the Christian religion. Christian piety he reveres as the highest excellence of human beings, and the amplest reward he can seek for his labour is the consciousness of having, in some degree, however inconsiderable, contributed ...
— The Philadelphia Magazines and their Contributors 1741-1850 • Albert Smyth

... artists by their contemporaries; yet to trim deftly one's convictions in the hope that they may elastically conform to any one of a number of possible verdicts to be expected from a capricious futurity, is probably as dangerous a proceeding as to avow, without equivocation or compromise, one's precise beliefs. It will therefore be understood that the critical estimates which are offered in the following pages have been set down ...
— Edward MacDowell • Lawrence Gilman

... was a note of undisputable authority in his voice that silenced whatever objection the girl might have offered. Already, she began to feel that this man knew. He would cherish her to his last breath, but what he said she must obey, both for his sake and her own. There was no equivocation possible; he had taken command; he would give orders, which he expected her to obey promptly; he would do everything for the best. He knew, and she did not. Therefore, she would trust herself to him. So, she surrendered her will to his, and felt little thrills of admiration as he walked ...
— The Wilderness Trail • Frank Williams

... flagstone wide The prince advanced, inflamed with passion: "To-morrow thou an oath," he cried, "Shalt swear without equivocation. ...
— Axel Thordson and Fair Valborg - a ballad • Thomas J. Wise

... reference to an equivocator in the porter's soliloquy (II, iii) may allude to Henry Garnet, who was tried in 1606 for complicity in the {190} famous Gunpowder Plot, and who is said to have upheld the doctrine of equivocation. The date of composition is ...
— An Introduction to Shakespeare • H. N. MacCracken

... his wife instantly, not daring then and there to soothe her by equivocation, but replying truthfully out of his soul: 'No, oh! no.' What did he mean by that? Of what did he stand convicted, and wherefore? These were the thoughts which occupied his mind, especially after the fever had left him, during the long weeks of his recovery. Joel was a man of extraordinary perceptive ...
— The Continental Monthly, Vol. 2, No. 2, August, 1862 - Devoted to Literature and National Policy • Various

... loiter by the [way] when he is sent of an errand, but shall make hast and give a direct answer when he is asked who he is going [for]. No Freshman shall use lying or equivocation to ...
— A Collection of College Words and Customs • Benjamin Homer Hall

... that he had changed his mind, as Peel had changed his mind about the catholic question and about free trade, and as Mr. Disraeli was to change his mind upon franchise in 1867, and Mr. Gladstone upon the Irish church in 1868. Instead of this, all was equivocation. The Derbyite, as was well said, was protectionist in a county, neutral in a small town, free trader in a large one. He was for Maynooth in Ireland, and against it in Scotland. Mr. Disraeli did his best to mystify the ...
— The Life of William Ewart Gladstone, Vol. 1 (of 3) - 1809-1859 • John Morley

... Innocent III., Kulin repaired to Rome to give an account of his conduct and faith. Having succeeded in diverting suspicions about his orthodoxy, he returned to Bosnia, where he gave out that the Pope was well satisfied with his profession of faith,—a slight equivocation, which will hardly bear an enquiry,—and thus induced many more to join the Patarenes. Hearing of this, the Pope requested the King of Hungary to compel Kulin to eject them from the country, at the same time ordering Bernard, Archbishop ...
— Herzegovina - Or, Omer Pacha and the Christian Rebels • George Arbuthnot

... might have met this imperative mode of questioning by dogged silence, or an evasive answer, was too uncertain as to what the doctor himself might have repeated to Jeanne-Marie, to attempt equivocation. ...
— My Little Lady • Eleanor Frances Poynter

... OF EQUIVOCATION. Wherein is largely discussed the question whether a Catholicke or any other person before a magistrate, being demanded upon his Oath whether a Prieste were in such a place, may (notwithstanding his perfect knowledge to the contrary) without Perjury, ...
— Notes and Queries, Number 81, May 17, 1851 • Various

... on the scaffold in the cold morning air, he foiled James and Philip at one thrust, and conquered the esteem of all posterity. It is only now, after two centuries and a half, that history is beginning to hint that there was not a little special pleading and some excusable equivocation in this great apology which rang through monarchical England like the blast of a clarion, and which echoed in secret places till the oppressed rose up ...
— Raleigh • Edmund Gosse

... whence, perhaps, nicknames have in a considerable degree sprung up;—or it is the language of suppressed passion, and especially of a hardly smothered personal dislike. The first, and last of these combine in Hamlet's case; and I have little doubt that Farmer is right in supposing the equivocation carried on in the expression 'too much i' the sun,' ...
— Literary Remains, Vol. 2 • Coleridge

... have deceived me with words of equivocation to gain my ear," replied the king, mustering all the strength that still remained to him, "and you ...
— Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 59, No. 363, January, 1846 • Various

... in a situation that touched his honor. In the way of warlike artifices, few men were more subtle or loved to practise them oftener than Raoul Yvard; but, the mask aside, or when he fell back on his own native dignity of mind, death itself could not have extorted an equivocation from him. On the other hand, Ithuel had an affection for a lie—more especially if it served himself, or injured his enemy; finding a mode of reconciling all this to his spirituality that is somewhat peculiar to fanaticism ...
— The Wing-and-Wing - Le Feu-Follet • J. Fenimore Cooper

... brave boy,' said Mr. Kendal, who had suffered so much from his elder son's equivocation as to be ready to overlook anything for the sake of truth. 'Here, Uncle Maurice, shake hands with your godson, who ...
— The Young Step-Mother • Charlotte M. Yonge

... to her surprise and chagrin that she is a nervous talker? What is the remedy for that? The first thing to do is to own up the truth to herself without equivocation. To make no excuses or explanations but ...
— Nerves and Common Sense • Annie Payson Call

... its principle, and the correct determination of it in opposition to the maxims which are based on wants and inclinations, so that it may escape from the perplexity of opposite claims and not run the risk of losing all genuine moral principles through the equivocation into which it easily falls. Thus, when practical reason cultivates itself, there insensibly arises in it a dialetic which forces it to seek aid in philosophy, just as happens to it in its theoretic use; and in this case, therefore, as well as in the other, ...
— Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Morals • Immanuel Kant

... trickster's minute tortuosities of construction—exactly in the opposite direction, from mere excess of sincerity, most unwillingly I found, in almost every body's words, an unintentional opening left for double interpretations. Undesigned equivocation prevails every where; [10] and it is not the cavilling hair splitter, but, on the contrary, the single-eyed servant of truth, that is most likely to insist upon the limitation of expressions too wide or too vague, and upon the decisive election between meanings potentially double. ...
— Autobiographic Sketches • Thomas de Quincey

... not the man to accept the word of a Jesuit, unless it should be the word "Guilty." He accused Garnet of wholesale violation of the Decalogue in the plainest English, and coolly told him that he could not believe him on his oath, since the Pope could absolve him for any extent of lying or equivocation. It was plainly no easy matter to ...
— It Might Have Been - The Story of the Gunpowder Plot • Emily Sarah Holt

... she was to equivocation, this down-right falsehood cost Mrs. Livingstone quite an effort, but she fancied the case required it, and after a few twinges, her conscience felt easy, particularly when she saw how much satisfaction her words gave to her companion, ...
— 'Lena Rivers • Mary J. Holmes

... Julia. She putting in (as one may say) a good word for herself, said she knew Julia; as well she might, being herself the Julia of whom she spoke; telling how fondly Julia loved her master, Proteus, and how his unkind neglect would grieve her. And then she with a pretty equivocation went on: "Julia is about my height, and of my complexion, the color of her eyes and hair the same as mine." And indeed Julia looked a most beautiful ...
— Tales from Shakespeare • Charles and Mary Lamb

... no attempt at denial or equivocation. He knew that this would be useless. He waited for an opportunity to excuse himself, and to explain rather than to deny. But every answer of his only served to increase the fury of Girasole, who seemed determined to visit upon the head ...
— The American Baron • James De Mille

... true," he went on. "Have courage and be ugly. If you like bad music, then say so frankly. Show yourselves, see yourselves as you are. Kid your souls of the loathsome burden of all your compromise and equivocation. Wash it in pure water. How long is it since you have seen. yourselves in a mirror? I will show you yourselves. Composers, virtuosi, conductors, singers, and you, dear public. You shall for once know yourselves.... Be what you like: but, for any sake, be true! Be true even though art ...
— Jean-Christophe, Vol. I • Romain Rolland

... that now oppressed him with the poignancy of an immediate ordeal was the need of saying good-bye to Dorothy, and neither of them would fail to understand that it might be a last good-bye. There was no room for equivocation in this crisis, and as he gazed up into the full and peaceful shade over his head, a flood of little memories, bound tendril-like by sounds, sights, and fragrances to his heart, swept him with ...
— The Roof Tree • Charles Neville Buck

... and gazed upon the Chevalier with an expression of countenance that plainly indicated the terror which froze his blood, and rendered him speechless—for the position in which he and the Duchess had been detected, would, he well knew, admit of no explanation—no equivocation. ...
— Venus in Boston; - A Romance of City Life • George Thompson

... in Essex, in the year 1738, that three horses (and no more than three) started for a L10 plate, and they were all three distanced the first heat, according to the common rules in horse-racing, without any quibble or equivocation; and the following was the solution:—The first horse ran on the inside of the post; the second wanted weight; and the third fell and ...
— The Gaming Table: Its Votaries and Victims - Volume II (of II) • Andrew Steinmetz

... of it! The whole truth and nothing but the truth!" Her hand rested fondly on his; no word of equivocation was possible under that mode of putting her lover to the question. "Tell me why ...
— The Golden Dog - Le Chien d'Or • William Kirby

... a right to conceal facts which another has no right to know?* In such a case, concealment is undoubtedly a right; but falsehood, or equivocation, or truth which will convey a false impression, is not a right. This question has not unfrequently arisen with regard to anonymous publications. It might be a fair subject of inquiry, whether anonymous writing is not in all cases objectionable, on the ground that a sense of personal ...
— A Manual of Moral Philosophy • Andrew Preston Peabody

... If an equivocation had been natural or easy to Marion, she might have been ready with several now, which perhaps would have satisfied Miss Ashton; but she was a straightforward, honest girl, who never in her whole life had been placed before ...
— Miss Ashton's New Pupil - A School Girl's Story • Mrs. S. S. Robbins



Words linked to "Equivocation" :   indirect expression, doublespeak, quiddity, equivocate, deceit, untruthfulness, equivocalness, falsification, hedge, ambiguity, cavil, quibble, hedging, circumlocution, deception, misrepresentation



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