Word of the Day -- Tergiversation

This is one of the 7 dollar words as my mother used to call them.  You know, those words that are big, fancy, and you have no frigging clue what they mean.  I ran across it in a new puzzle today, and it stumped both me and my wife.  But if you want to impress the barista at Starbucks, give this a go:

Tergiversation -- evasion of straightforward action or clear-cut statement; equivocation.

Now I knew what equivocation means, my wife says I do that all the time.  I hedge my answers or bets, so to speak.  You never want to paint yourself into a corner I say.  :-) 

The roots of tergiversation are about an unwillingness to pick a course and stay on it. The Latin verb tergiversari means "to show reluctance," and it comes from the combining of tergum, meaning "back," and versare, meaning "to turn." (While versare and its related form, vertere, turn up in the etymologies of many English words, including versatile and invert, tergum is at the root of only a few, among them tergal, an obscure synonym of dorsal.) While the "desertion" meaning of tergiversation is both older and a better reflection of the meanings of its etyma, the word is more frequently used as a synonym of equivocation. The related verb tergiversate is a somewhat rare synonym of equivocate

 


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