Share this entry
equivocate Line breaks: equivo|cate
Pronunciation: /ɪˈkwɪvəkeɪt/

Definition of equivocate in English:


[no object]
Use ambiguous language so as to conceal the truth or avoid committing oneself: the government have equivocated too often in the past
More example sentences
  • The law students squirmed and equivocated to avoid confronting my question.
  • At least it is not, so long as we avoid equivocating on the notion of satisfying a desire.
  • They want justice to be seen to be done, particularly where perpetrators remained quiet, equivocated or evaded the truth.
prevaricate, be evasive, be non-committal, be vague, be ambiguous, evade/dodge the issue, beat about the bush, hedge, hedge one's bets, fudge the issue;
fence, parry questions;
vacillate, shilly-shally, cavil, waver, quibble;
British  hum and haw
informal pussyfoot around, waffle, flannel, sit on the fence, duck the issue/question
archaic palter


Pronunciation: /ɪˈkwɪvəkeɪtə/
Example sentences
  • Indeed, there's reason to hope that even the most benighted American moral equivocators may come to realize that the message of September is the exact opposite of the one they've been preaching.
  • Paul Newman has played moral equivocators his entire career, whether they were good guys or bad.
  • Like one equivocator who was well-known for her ability to fudge her forecasts, some of the psychics offered predictions for 2000 that were just as wishy-washy.
Example sentences
  • He also contends that his qualification of the government's factual proffer, as described above, showed that he was "equivocatory" on entering the plea.
  • It can be casually entertaining, dull but compelling because of its authorship or outrageously challenging an equivocatory, apologetic or blatantly misleading editorial.


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).

  • voice from Middle English:

    A word derived from Latin vox ‘voice’ and is related to vocabulary (mid 16th century), vocal (Middle English), vocation (Late Middle English), and vociferous (early 17th century), while the verb vocare ‘to call’ appears in convoke (late 16th century) ‘call together’; equivocate (Late Middle English) literally ‘call by the same name’; evoke (early 17th century) ‘call out’; invoke (Late Middle English) ‘call upon’; provoke (Late Middle English) ‘call forth’; revoke (Late Middle English) ‘call back’; and vouch (Middle English) and voucher (early 16th century). Vowel (Middle English) is from Old French vouel, from Latin vocalis (littera) ‘vocal (letter)’. The Latin root survives in vox pop, ‘an informal survey of people's opinion’, which is short for Latin vox populi or ‘voice of the people’. When people refer to an ignored advocate of reform as a voice in the wilderness they are echoing the words of John the Baptist proclaiming the coming of the Messiah: ‘I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness.’

Words that rhyme with equivocate

altercate • advocate
Definition of equivocate in:
Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Related Words