amphibology \am-fuh-BAH-luh-jee\ noun
: a sentence or phrase that can be interpreted in more than one way
Not wanting to voice what I really felt, I resorted to amphibology and said, "I can't say too many good things about her."
Did you know?
A venerable old word in English, "amphibology" is from Greek "amphibolos" (via Late Latin and Latin). "Amphibolos," from "amphi-" ("both") and "ballein" ("to throw"), literally means "encompassing" or "hitting at both ends"; figuratively it means "ambiguous." Amphibology is an equivocator's friend. An editor who has been sent an unsolicited manuscript to critique, for example, might reply, "I shall lose no time in reading your book." Or a dinner guest who feels the onset of heartburn might say something like, "Ah, that was a meal I shall not soon forget!" But amphibology's ambiguity can be unintended and undesirable as well, as in "When Mom talked to Judy, she said she might call her back the next day." (Who said who might call whom back?)