Definition of temporize in US English:


(British temporise)


  • 1no object Avoid making a decision or committing oneself in order to gain time.

    ‘the opportunity was missed because the mayor still temporized’
    • ‘It's just not a solution to the problem, it's just a way of temporizing.’
    • ‘They exercised verbal terror against politicians, making them temporize and postpone the solution.’
    • ‘The prime minister temporized and allowed things to drift.’
    • ‘He has been temporizing, casting about for a strategy.’
    • ‘Leaders temporize and dither for short-term advantage.’
    • ‘Left in charge, he temporized, agonized, and cursed the fates.’
    • ‘He finally grew impatient with his temporizing and commenced military operations.’
    • ‘He needs to be seen as a leader making bold strokes where others are temporizing.’
    • ‘The council had temporized on quite crucial decisions.’
    • ‘They were not negotiating in good faith but were, rather, temporising.’
    • ‘Liberals are classified as weak, insipid, temporizing, and unprincipled.’
    • ‘They temporize only when political factors prohibit action.’
    • ‘He will probably try to do what he always has done: make no clear choice and temporize.’
    • ‘Louis did not exactly say no, but he temporized and did not say yes, either.’
    • ‘There have been times in the past when they temporized, stumbled, or failed to advance their agendas.’
    • ‘Moderate leaders continue to temporize and avoid coming to grips with extremists.’
  • 2Temporarily adopt a particular course in order to conform to the circumstances.

    ‘their unwillingness to temporize had driven their country straight into conflict with France’
    • ‘He will temporise the most disreputable political causes in order to promote his agenda.’
    • ‘The coalition temporises with the old order.’
    • ‘The organization habitually temporizes and sends radically mixed signals.’
    • ‘His strategy is to start with a bold measure and then temporize to pick up the conservative forces.’
    • ‘The accused needs to demonstrate that he or she is prepared to temporise.’
    • ‘She did her best to temporize, but armed insurgents defied her authority.’
    • ‘Further temporizing with paramilitary and criminal activity will no longer be tolerated.’
    • ‘He sometimes temporised, and did not always keep his word and fulfil the conditions to which he agreed.’
    • ‘80 years of temporizing, compromising, and finally giving in had yielded nothing.’
    • ‘There is a tendency for these governments to temporise in the face of working class resistance.’
    • ‘You cannot adopt a radical stance against terrorism abroad whilst temporising with it at home.’


Late 16th century: from French temporiser ‘bide one's time’, from medieval Latin temporizare ‘to delay’, from Latin tempus, tempor- ‘time’.