Definition of prevaricate in US English:



[no object]
  • Speak or act in an evasive way.

    ‘he seemed to prevaricate when journalists asked pointed questions’
    • ‘You can't just sit about prevaricating forever.’
    • ‘I know I make it appear that I sit around all day wondering what my own skull looks like and prevaricating (and there is a fair amount of that, I have to say) but I do actually work quite hard.’
    • ‘When he believed in something, he was incapable of dissembling or prevaricating.’
    • ‘While they talk and prevaricate, foot and mouth could be back in the country tomorrow, and if that happens both farming and rural-based tourism in this country will take 50 years to recover.’
    • ‘As for the moral arguments, let's insist on a full and complete discussion of those too - without the usual shilly-shallying and prevaricating.’
    • ‘Instead, I'm prevaricating, dwelling on ‘stuff’, undoubtedly thinking too much, and generally needing motivation, probably in the form of a swift kick up the backside.’
    • ‘Not dissembling, not equivocating, not prevaricating, not misinforming, not distorting.’
    • ‘Procrastinating and prevaricating in the matter would amount to sanctioning an open season on minorities.’
    • ‘That is they kept quibbling and prevaricating and showing stubbornness.’
    • ‘With reference to that last paragraph - am I prevaricating?’
    • ‘It is extremely inappropriate for senior politicians to be prevaricating on the issue of corruption.’
    • ‘Why should we believe you when it is well known that all lawyers prevaricate?’
    • ‘Ipso facto, if an intelligent person continues to allege them, he is prevaricating.’
    • ‘Aside from our agent, I too was at a loss as to why we were still prevaricating over the deal.’
    • ‘They simply must stop prevaricating and comply with the WTO ruling.’
    • ‘Though anyone who knows me well also knows that if I were to begin prevaricating, I've a fiendish plan in reserve.’
    • ‘They don't have the balls to admit that they were caught out, so they attack and lie and prevaricate and do everything to shuffle out from under it.’
    • ‘Having been awarded the game they then spent almost three weeks prevaricating before eventually deciding to play the game early last week.’
    • ‘There's no degree course in prevaricating, sadly, unless you count management science.’
    • ‘Why should they waste the time of the court and disgrace themselves by prevaricating like pickpockets merely to employ the barristers?’
    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
    be evasive, beat about the bush, hedge, fence, shilly-shally, shuffle, dodge, dodge the issue, sidestep, sidestep the issue, pussyfoot, equivocate, be non-committal, parry questions, be vague, vacillate, quibble, cavil, lie
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Mid 16th century (earlier ( Middle English) as prevarication and prevaricator), in the sense ‘go astray, transgress’: from Latin praevaricat- ‘walked crookedly, deviated’, from the verb praevaricari, from prae ‘before’ + varicari ‘straddle’.