equivocation

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
  1. noun
    intentional vagueness or ambiguity
    synonyms: evasiveness, prevarication
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    type of:
    ambiguity, equivocalness
    unclearness by virtue of having more than one meaning
    untruthfulness
    the quality of being untruthful
  2. noun
    falsification by means of vague or ambiguous language
    synonyms: tergiversation
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    type of:
    falsification, misrepresentation
    a willful perversion of facts
  3. noun
    a statement that is not literally false but that cleverly avoids an unpleasant truth
    synonyms: evasion
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    types:
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    circumlocution, indirect expression
    an indirect way of expressing something
    doublespeak
    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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