Sunday, October 23, 2005

Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Equivocal

Merriam-Webster Online

equivocal \ih-KWIV-uh-kul\ adjective

1 *a : subject to two or more interpretations and usually used to mislead or confuse b : uncertain as an indication or sign
2 a : of uncertain nature or classification b : of uncertain disposition toward a person or thing : undecided c : of doubtful advantage, genuineness, or moral rectitude

Example sentence:

When asked about his plans to end tenure and rescind health care for new hires, the president gave only equivocal answers, providing little information about his plans.

Did you know?
"Equivocal," "vague," and "ambiguous" all mean "not clearly understandable" and are used to describe confusing speech or writing. "Equivocal" — which can be traced back to the Latin prefix "aequi-" ("equi-") and the Latin word "vox" ("voice") — applies to language left open to differing interpretations with the intention of deceiving or evading ("moral precepts with equivocal phrasing"). "Vague" implies a lack of clear formulation due to inadequate conception or consideration ("I had only a vague idea of how to get there"). "Ambiguous," like "equivocal," applies to language capable of more than one interpretation but usually does not have the negative connotations of deception or evasion ("the poet's wording is intentionally ambiguous").

1 comment:

memsamechnun said...

Equi vocalities, in a Maimonidean sense, are not meant to confuse, but to multiply and deepen meaning. THey should serve to enlighten and free us, but such has not often been the case since Moses maimonides.

"Maimonides himself states that while most of the topics dealt with in The Guide are of an esoteric nature, the negation of the doctrine of corporeality and of God having affections must be taught to the masses.22 Consequently, the entire first half of Book I, primarily comprised of Maimonides’ lengthy discussion of equivocal terms, is specifically intended for the masses, for harboring corporeal conceptions of the deity is idolatry par excellence."