Word of the Day

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

tergiversation

\tuhr-jiv-uhr-SAY-shuhn\ , noun;
1.
The act of practicing evasion or of being deliberately ambiguous.
2.
The act of abandoning a party or cause.
Quotes:
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
Origin:
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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