equivocacy

equivocal

[ih-kwiv-uh-kuhl]
adjective
1.
allowing the possibility of several different meanings, as a word or phrase, especially with intent to deceive or misguide; susceptible of double interpretation; deliberately ambiguous: an equivocal answer.
2.
of doubtful nature or character; questionable; dubious; suspicious: aliens of equivocal loyalty.
3.
of uncertain significance; not determined: an equivocal attitude.

Origin:
1375–1425; late Middle English equivoc (< Late Latin aequivocus ambiguous, equivalent to Latin aequi- equi- + vōc-, stem of vōx vox + -us adj. suffix) + -al1

equivocality, equivocacy [ih-kwiv-uh-kuh-see] , noun
equivocally, adverb
equivocalness, noun
nonequivocal, adjective
nonequivocally, adverb

equivalent, equivocal.


1. See ambiguous.


The four-syllable word equivocal is sometimes said by those not entirely familiar with it as [ih-kwiv-uh-kuh-buhl] as if it were a five-syllable word, equivocable. This is probably the result of conflation with the pronunciations heard for many common adjectives that do end with -cable, as applicable, communicable, despicable, and eradicable.
However, if you split equivocal in half, as equi- + -vocal, the relation of its spelling to its origin and meanings becomes more clear. Think “equal voices,” two or more voices in conflict over a meaning, attitude, statement, etc., resulting in ambiguity, indecision, or deception. Recombine equi- + -vocal, put the main stress on the second syllable, and you have it: [ih-kwiv-uh-kuhl]
The form with the extra syllable is not found in educated writing, nor are any of its matching derivatives, like equivocably, unequivocable, and unequivocably. These are not considered standard variants and are best avoided in writing and speech.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
equivocal (ɪˈkwɪvəkəl)
 
adj
1.  capable of varying interpretations; ambiguous
2.  deliberately misleading or vague; evasive
3.  of doubtful character or sincerity; dubious
 
[C17: from Late Latin aequivocus, from Latin equi- + vōx voice]
 
e'quivocally
 
adv
 
equivo'cality
 
n
 
e'quivocalness
 
n

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

equivocal
c.1600, from L.L. aequivocus (see equivocation). Related: Equivocally.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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