adjective equiv·o·cal \i-ˈkwi-və-kəl\

: having two or more possible meanings

: not easily understood or explained

Full Definition of EQUIVOCAL

a :  subject to two or more interpretations and usually used to mislead or confuse <an equivocal statement>
b :  uncertain as an indication or sign <equivocal evidence>
a :  of uncertain nature or classification <equivocal shapes>
b :  of uncertain disposition toward a person or thing :  undecided <an equivocal attitude>
c :  of doubtful advantage, genuineness, or moral rectitude <equivocal behavior>
equiv·o·cal·i·ty \-ˌkwi-və-ˈka-lə-tē\ noun
equiv·o·cal·ly \-ˈkwi-və-k(ə-)lē\ adverb
equiv·o·cal·ness \-kəl-nəs\ noun

Examples of EQUIVOCAL

  1. When I go to galleries to see new art. … I don't care about what I see unless it holds my eye, and that is an almost involuntary experience; but once something has that hold on me—even in a tentative, equivocal way—other factors come into play, and I find myself reaching for analogies, ideas, theories. —Jed Perl, New Republic, 20 Mar. 2000


Late Latin aequivocus, from aequi- equi- + voc-, vox voice — more at voice
First Known Use: 1599

Synonym Discussion of EQUIVOCAL

obscure, dark, vague, enigmatic, cryptic, ambiguous, equivocal mean not clearly understandable. obscure implies a hiding or veiling of meaning through some inadequacy of expression or withholding of full knowledge <obscure poems>. dark implies an imperfect or clouded revelation often with ominous or sinister suggestion <muttered dark hints of revenge>. vague implies a lack of clear formulation due to inadequate conception or consideration <a vague sense of obligation>. enigmatic stresses a puzzling, mystifying quality <enigmatic occult writings>. cryptic implies a purposely concealed meaning <cryptic hints of hidden treasure>. ambiguous applies to language capable of more than one interpretation <an ambiguous directive>. equivocal applies to language left open to differing interpretations with the intention of deceiving or evading <moral precepts with equivocal phrasing>.

Rhymes with EQUIVOCAL


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