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.
of doubtful nature or character; questionable; dubious; suspicious: aliens of equivocal loyalty.
of uncertain significance; not determined: an equivocal attitude.
Origin: 1375–1425;late Middle Englishequivoc (< Late Latinaequivocus ambiguous, equivalent to Latinaequi-equi- + vōc-, stem of vōxvox + -us adj. suffix) + -al1
Pronunciation note The four-syllable word equivocal is sometimes said by those not entirely familiar with it as /ɪˈkwɪvəkəbəl/Show Spelled[ih-kwiv-uh-kuh-buhl]Show IPA 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: /ɪˈkwɪvəkəl/[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.