Word of the Day

Monday, July 24, 2000


\tuhr-jiv-uhr-SAY-shuhn\ , noun;
The act of practicing evasion or of being deliberately ambiguous.
The act of abandoning a party or cause.
No doubt if I worked on it, I could evolve some kind of double-talk that would get around the offensive phrase, and make the, to me, face-saving implication; but to hell with that, I have too much respect for the English language, and for your understanding of it, to go in for tergiversation and weasely circumlocution.
-- Richard Gillman, "Standing Up to Ezra Pound", New York Times, August 25, 1991
Like most writers, I have always championed thrift . . . . Not long ago, however, I experienced an extraordinary tergiversation. Now I'm an ally of excess, a proponent of redundancy.
-- Michael Norman, "When an Author's Words Are Sold by the Pound", New York Times, September 15, 1991
Tergiversation comes from Latin tergiversatus, past participle of tergiversari, "to turn one's back, to shift," from tergum, "back" + versare, frequentative of vertere, "to turn." The verb form is tergiversate.
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