Word of The Day for Wednesday, October 13, 2010


ter•giv•er•sa•tion  (tuhr-jiv-uhr-say-shuhn) \ˌtər-ˌji-vər-ˈsā-shən\   n

1. the act of practicing evasion or of being deliberately ambiguous
2. the act of abandoning a party or cause formerly advocated
3. the act of turning from a clear course of action

tergiversate verb; tergiversator, tergiversant noun; tergiversatory adjective

Synonyms: equivocate, palter, prevaricate, apostatise, circumlocution
Related Words: conversation, versus, convert, divert, invert (from vertere "to turn")

• The scales seemed to fall from his eyes, and the duplicity and tergiversation of which he had been guilty, stung him at once with remorse and shame. Sir Walter Scott
• Now this charge of "inconsistency" and tergiversation  has so long been popularly regarded as the heaviest and most damaging that can be brought against the character of politicians, that it is well worth while to spend a few moments in how it comes to be estimated, and how much of justice may be awarded to this estimate, when weighed in the balance of unprejudiced reason. 1852

The Storyline
And at the sight of that, Anna abruptly turned from her present cause without remorse for her tergiversation and left Kurt slumped against the open doorway...

1645–55;  < L tergiversa-tus  (ptp. of tergiversa-ri-  to turn one's back), equiv. to tergi-  (comb. form of tergum  back) + versa-tus,  ptp. of versa-re,  freq. of vertere  to turn

Sources: Wordnik

Why This Word:
Turn away. Turning away from clear meaning. Turning away from a clear path. Turning away from a clear conviction. Little wonder today's word connotes duplicity, subterfuge and evasion. Yet it's hard not to notice how much deliberate ambiguity and evasion in contemporary political debate happens exactly to present the appearance of being true to the cause. And among the senses of the word, turning against the cause is a much greater sin than turning away from a clear path or meaning. Which isn't to say that we don't notice the tergiversations in the say-anything-to-be-elected campaigns of the other side.

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

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