Duplicate vs duplicity

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Duplicate and duplicity are two words that come from the same roots but have different meanings. We will look at the definitions of duplicate and duplicity, their common roots and some examples of their use in sentences.

Duplicate means to make a copy of something, to have an exact pair of something, to reproduce an exact copy from an original. Duplicate may be used as a noun, verb or adjective. Related words are duplicates, duplicated, duplicating, duplication. The word duplicate is derived from the Latin word duplicare, which means to double.

Duplicity means deceitfulness, treacherousness, underhandedness, fraud or dishonesty. Duplicity is a noun, a related word is duplicitous. The word duplicity is also derived from the Latin word duplicare, but in this case, in the sense of double-dealing, of being two-faced. Interestingly, the word duplicity is over one hundred years older than the word duplicate.


“I don’t want to take a position at this point in time but trust me there will be a big debate… look at the irony of this, all the duplicity,” Jagdeo told a press conference on Wednesday at Freedom House, Georgetown. (The Stabroek News)

While colleges offering diplomas are subject to regulation and monitoring by federal and state governments, the number of shonky “colleges” and the extent of their duplicity clearly overwhelmed the existing regulatory systems. (The Canberra Times)

Board officials speculated that the absentee/provisional duplicates were in part to blame on confusion and concern after a number of requested absentee ballots were delayed in arriving before the election. (The Toledo Blade)

For his part, AKO Bicol party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe, president of the House party-list bloc, agreed with Fernando, explaining that “creating another agency will just duplicate the traffic management functions of MMDA” (The Manila Bulletin)