Definition of equivocal in US English:



  • 1Open to more than one interpretation; ambiguous.

    ‘the equivocal nature of her remarks’
    • ‘The equivocal mood produces a vague (but not dangerous) unease.’
    • ‘No doubt its subversive yet equivocal message will keep gay fans debating long past Labor Day.’
    • ‘This constellation of ideas provides a non-dogmatic and equivocal statement on the co-optation and dialectical struggle of Soviet art.’
    • ‘His reply was oblique, equivocal, and we hurried on to other matters.’
    • ‘Some ambiguous changes were possible because of unresolved phylogeny or equivocal reconstruction.’
    • ‘Although the ministers managed to adopt an agenda-setting declaration as a result of marathon negotiations, the road map is equivocal enough to allow each member to arbitrarily interpret it.’
    • ‘But where the contract does not tell the whole story or is equivocal as to who is supplying what and to whom, it will be permissible to substitute it by, or fill its gaps by reference to, the real deal.’
    • ‘Except in the postcontact period, the Neanderthals had exhibited only equivocal signs of symbolic behaviors.’
    • ‘This deformation renders interpretations of the original nature of such contacts equivocal.’
    • ‘However, in single and double overexpressors the intersection was equivocal.’
    • ‘And the statement of fact in the latter case seems to be less misleading and equivocal than in the former.’
    • ‘If Auchter seems equivocal, the GED Testing Service website borders on the deceptive.’
    • ‘Battle's answer to this question is equivocal.’
    • ‘Is it any wonder that his ambiguous hybrid art dissolves boundaries in such an equivocal manner?’
    • ‘Finally, there is evidence that propaliny evolved twice within Anomodontia, but much of it depends on how equivocal or poorly preserved features of Otsheria and Ulemica are interpreted.’
    • ‘Second, the interpretation of histological characters is equivocal.’
    • ‘However, the evidence on industrial disputes is at least equivocal and there are indications of higher levels of conflict that challenge notions of quiescent workforces unwilling to take action.’
    • ‘Certainly, where the evidence in question is equivocal, in the sense of ambiguous and uncertain and conjectural in nature, the probative force is of such diminished significance as to be valueless.’
    • ‘Social-science research is often equivocal, but on the cost of parenthood to mothers in particular a truckload of research exists to establish how it limits economic options in every class.’
    • ‘It is necessary to understand that, but it is necessary also to recognise that such decisions are morally equivocal, and that they may bring in their wake a dangerous disregard for legal rights in general.’
    undecided, to be decided, unresolved, undetermined, uncertain, open, arguable, debatable, disputed, unanswered, open to debate, doubtful, in doubt, moot, up in the air, in limbo, in a state of limbo, in a state of uncertainty, indefinite, inconclusive, unconfirmed, unsolved, ongoing, pending
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    1. 1.1 Uncertain or questionable in nature.
      ‘the results of the investigation were equivocal’
      • ‘The possibility is still open to his characters, but in an increasingly equivocal and doubtful way.’
      • ‘Note that other interpretations included not only incorrect diagnoses but also interpretations indicative of equivocal results or technical problems.’
      • ‘Overall, support for the direct influence of the economics of language on multilingualism was equivocal.’
      • ‘Monteith reads the novels included in her study as offering equivocal answers to this question of microcosmic social change.’
      • ‘This information is helpful when managing patients with diabetes and end-stage renal disease because they tend to have equivocal PVR studies and problematic wounds.’
      • ‘The first has to do with the equivocal nature of the evidence for the doctrine.’
      • ‘Another fundamental point is how to interpret equivocal tests.’
      • ‘In contrast, three further compounds that were positive or equivocal in the bacterial assays were negative in GSA and mammalian assays (Compounds B, E and M).’
      • ‘Many experts claim that they do not occur in the Olympic Mountains, although there is some equivocal evidence to the contrary.’
      • ‘Success was equivocal, until it was pointed out that the charm lacked a joint.’
      • ‘In his closing submissions, Mr. Marler quite properly abandoned reliance on certain pleaded misrepresentations by Hillis considering the equivocal nature of the evidence.’
      • ‘Therefore, results may remain equivocal or questionable regardless of the number of times the experiment is performed.’
      • ‘The heterogeneity of the political climate, and the equivocal success of traditional ideological labels in differentiating parties, allows for a more complete test of the two-value hypothesis.’
      • ‘Given the equivocal nature of the evidence, deviations from these recommendations may, and should, occur.’
      • ‘Metaphors of evolution were often mobilised, although the equivocal nature of the concept of evolution necessitates care in our interpretation of how contemporaries used the term.’
      • ‘The logic of the reasoning that implies that, taken in isolation, past conduct is equivocal assumes, contrary to experience, that parties are as likely to breach their obligations as to perform them.’
      • ‘We have extensive experience with the strand displacement amplification test and have not experienced such a problem with equivocal results.’
      • ‘The result is skeptical and non-reductionistic, both good, but confusingly equivocal.’
      • ‘Despite the limitations of the era's technology, the exercise ended as an equivocal success.’
      • ‘His failure in this respect left Anglo-Irish relations in an equivocal and uncertain state.’
      controversial, contentious, open to question, open to doubt, in doubt, doubtful, dubious, uncertain, unsure, debatable, in dispute, in question, arguable, problematic, problematical
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Mid 16th century: from late Latin aequivocus, from Latin aequus ‘equally’ + vocare ‘to call’.