Equivocate vs prevaricate

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The words equivocate and prevaricate sound similar and have similar meanings, but there is a definite difference between the two. We will identify the similarities and differences, as well as show you some examples of the proper use of the words equivocate and prevaricate.

Equivocate means to speak vaguely, to use ambiguous language in order to remain noncommittal or to hide the truth. Equivocate is an intransitive verb, which is a verb that does not require an object. Related words are equivocates, equivocated, equivocating, equivocatingly, equivocation, equivocator, equivocatory. The word equivocate is derived from the Latin word equivocare, which means to call by the same name. Equivocating is not out-and-out lying, but it is the process of misleading the listener with vagaries and omission.

Prevaricate means to speak in a misleading way, to speak with intent to deceive, to avoid telling the truth, to lie. Prevaricate is also an intransitive verb and does not take an object. Related words are prevaricates, prevaricated, prevaricating, prevaricatingly, prevarication, prevaricator, prevaricatory. The word prevaricate is derived from the Latin word praevaricari, which literally means walk crookedly, and also means to transgress or to make a sham accusation. Both equivocate and prevaricate may mean to speak evasively, but only prevaricate is used to describe lying.


But as fellow Republicans began to worry about the GOP field — and a seat that could mean the difference in control of the Senate — he started to equivocate. (The Orlando Sentinel)

Last week, Green Party nominee Jill Stein made headlines for equivocating on the safety of vaccines. (The Atlantic Magazine)

One of the qualities of a skilled politician is the ability to prevaricate and run verbal circles around current political predicaments. (The HIndu)

Meanwhile, Mrs. Clinton continues to prevaricate and deceive about her private email server. (The Columbia Daily Herald)