If your boss asks you where all the merchandise went and you say, "someone took it," omitting that the "someone" in question is you, that's equivocation: using ambiguous language to hide the truth.

Equivocation comes from the Latin for "equal" and "naming," and in equivocation, you use a word that could have a few different meanings, all technically equal, in order to mask what you really mean. It's a great way to not-quite lie, but still avoid taking the blame for something you did, which is why equivocation is never a good thing. You may recognize this kind of speech from watching (some) politicians on TV.

Definitions of equivocation

n intentional vagueness or ambiguity

evasiveness, prevarication
Type of:
ambiguity, equivocalness
unclearness by virtue of having more than one meaning
the quality of being untruthful

n falsification by means of vague or ambiguous language

Type of:
falsification, misrepresentation
a willful perversion of facts

n a statement that is not literally false but that cleverly avoids an unpleasant truth

show 4 types...
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circumlocution, indirect expression
an indirect way of expressing something
any language that pretends to communicate but actually does not
hedge, hedging
an intentionally noncommittal or ambiguous statement
cavil, quibble, quiddity
an evasion of the point of an argument by raising irrelevant distinctions or objections
Type of:
deceit, deception, misrepresentation
a misleading falsehood

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