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[tur-ji-ver-seyt] /ˈtɜr dʒɪ vərˌseɪt/
verb (used without object), tergiversated, tergiversating.
to change repeatedly one's attitude or opinions with respect to a cause, subject, etc.; equivocate.
to turn renegade.
Origin of tergiversate
1645-55; < Latin tergiversātus (past participle of tergiversārī to turn one's back), equivalent to tergi- (combining form of tergum back) + versātus, past participle of versāre, frequentative of vertere to turn; see -ate1
Related forms
tergiversation, noun
tergiversator, tergiversant
[tur-ji-vur-suh nt] /ˌtɜr dʒɪˈvɜr sənt/ (Show IPA),
[tur-ji-vur-suh-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee] /ˌtɜr dʒɪˈvɜr səˌtɔr i, -ˌtoʊr i/ (Show IPA),
adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for tergiversation
  • Conscience can tolerate no excuse, no de vice, no shift for such tergiversation.
  • There is less hesitation, less tergiversation, and there are fewer pirouettes.
British Dictionary definitions for tergiversation


verb (intransitive)
to change sides or loyalties; apostatize
to be evasive or ambiguous; equivocate
Derived Forms
tergiversation, noun
tergiversator, tergiversant (ˈtɜːdʒɪˌvɜːsənt) noun
tergiversatory, adjective
Word Origin
C17: from Latin tergiversārī to turn one's back, from tergum back + vertere to turn
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for tergiversation

turning dishonestly from a straightforward action or statement; shifting, shuffling, equivocation, 1560s, from Latin tergiversationem (nominative tergiversatio) "a shifting, evasion," from past participle stem of tergiversari "turn one's back on, evade," from tergum "the back" (of unknown origin) + versare "to spin, turn" (see versus).



1650s, from Latin tergiversatus, past participle of tergiversari "be evasive," literally "to turn one's back" (see tergiversation). Related: Tergiversated; tergiversating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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