Monday, March 21, 2011


equivocation [ɪˌkwɪvəˈkeɪʃən] n.

1. [Obs.] The using (a word) in more than one sense; ambiguity or uncertainty of meaning in words; also, misapprehension arising from the ambiguity of terms.
2. [Logic.] As the equivalent of Gr. ὁμωνυμία: The fallacy which is committed when a term has different senses in the different members of a syllogism.
3. The use of words or expressions that are susceptible of a double signification, with a view to mislead; especially the expression of a virtual falsehood in the form of a proposition which (in order to satisfy the speaker's conscience) is verbally true (Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd Ed.).

Etymology: Middle English equivocaten, from Medieval Latin aequivocare, aequivocat-, from Late Latin aequivocus, equivocal.

"Pemulis tells Lord he cannot believe his fucking eyes. He tells Lord how dare he don the dreaded red beanie over such an obvious instance of map-not-territory equivocationary horseshit as Ingersoll's trying to foist" (Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace, 1996).


Hydriotaphia said...

Looks suspiciously like a Browne/Bacon first usage, shall check it, OED does always credit him, for example SUICIDE only recently sourced as a T.B. coined word.

Hydriotaphia said...

'Equivocacy' Bk 2:7 Pseudodoxia- On the Basilisk

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