Definition of equivocate in English:



  • Use ambiguous language so as to conceal the truth or avoid committing oneself:

    ‘the government have equivocated too often in the past’
    • ‘The U.S. role has been equivocating for many years, because the United States has always seen Turkey as a key ally in a rough region, the Middle East.’
    • ‘Bishops obfuscate, cardinals equivocate and Church spokesmen prevaricate as the tide of media condemnation surges around them.’
    • ‘You either love it or hate it, because this never equivocates.’
    • ‘I usually do quirky, or poignant, or lyrical - weak and equivocating.’
    • ‘It sounded like I was equivocating; that it wasn't a real apology.’
    • ‘In fact, Finlayson is a little wordy even with his own words, equivocating and hesitating to offer an opinion of his own, as if lacking in confidence.’
    • ‘How is it, then, that a man so unequivocal in his own yardstick for cultural superiority in all things, despite admitted unsavoury elements, suddenly equivocates like a fox when asked about censorship?’
    • ‘They want justice to be seen to be done, particularly where perpetrators remained quiet, equivocated or evaded the truth.’
    • ‘A Wednesday news item on the Prime Minister's intention to refuse to accept a salary increase reveals another minister equivocating on the issue.’
    • ‘After kissing the subject, he just tapers off, equivocates, engages in euphemism.’
    • ‘In the 1950s and 1960s, the center equivocated during the great battles for civil rights.’
    • ‘In the face of interrogation by members of the committee, you waffled, equivocated, lied, feigned lack of memory, and even remained silent, in the face of the most probing questions.’
    • ‘Canadians are fundamentally suspicious of any party that appears to equivocate about rights.’
    • ‘The law students squirmed and equivocated to avoid confronting my question.’
    • ‘If he equivocates on the urgency to end the occupation, he's spirited in his insistence that the constitution will be Islamic.’
    • ‘They furrow their concerned brows and squint gravely towards the cameras in their field camo but all you hear is hedge and evade and dodge and divert and equivocate.’
    • ‘Stupidity is brief and guileless, while wit equivocates and hides.’
    • ‘At least it is not, so long as we avoid equivocating on the notion of satisfying a desire.’
    • ‘After initially equivocating, the ruler finally expressed on 15 August 1947 a preference to join Pakistan.’
    • ‘He has equivocated, frustrating even ardent supporters like Tauzin; and when he has finally acted, it has been to prolong rather than shorten the telecom slump.’
    prevaricate, be evasive, be non-committal, be vague, be ambiguous, dodge the issue, evade the issue, beat about the bush, hedge, hedge one's bets, fudge the issue
    fence, parry questions
    vacillate, shilly-shally, cavil, waver, quibble
    temporize, hesitate, shuffle about
    hum and haw
    pussyfoot around, waffle, flannel, sit on the fence, duck the issue, duck the question
    View synonyms


Late Middle English (in the sense ‘use a word in more than one sense’): from late Latin aequivocat- called by the same name, from the verb aequivocare, from aequivocus (see equivocal).