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Dictionary Meaning and Definition on 'Equivocation'

Equivocation Meaning and Definition from WordNet (r) 2.0
    equivocation n
  1. a statement that is not literally false but that cleverly avoids an unpleasant truth [syn: evasion]
  2. intentionally vague or ambiguous [syn: prevarication, evasiveness]
  3. falsification by means of vague or ambiguous language [syn: tergiversation]
Equivocation Meaning and Definition from Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)
    Equivocation \E*quiv`o*ca"tion\, n. The use of expressions susceptible of a double signification, with a purpose to mislead. There being no room for equivocations, there is no need of distinctions. --Locke. Syn: Prevarication; ambiguity; shuffling; evasion; guibbling. See Equivocal, a., and Prevaricate, v. i.
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Wikipedia Meaning and Definition on 'Equivocation'

Equivocation is classified as both a formal and informal logical fallacy. It is the misleading use of a term with more than one meaning or sense (by glossing over which meaning is intended at a particular time). It generally occurs with polysemic words.

It is often confused with amphibology (amphiboly); however, equivocation is ambiguity arising from the misleading use of a word and amphiboly is ambiguity arising from the misleading use of punctuation or syntax.

This form of word play relies upon two different words that sound alike. However, their different senses become obvious only upon a moment's reflection. One example is the contrast between birth and death, and birth and berth, and told and toll'd in Thomas Hood's account of the death of Ben the sailor (which took place at the age of 40, contrasted with his age of zero at birth) in his humorous poem Faithless Sally Brown:

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