Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • intransitive v. To act evasively in order to gain time, avoid argument, or postpone a decision: "Colonial officials . . . ordered to enforce unpopular enactments, tended to temporize, to find excuses for evasion” ( J.H. Parry).
  • intransitive v. To engage in discussions or negotiations, especially so as to achieve a compromise or gain time.
  • intransitive v. To yield to current circumstances or necessities; act to suit the time.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To deliberately act evasively or prolong a discussion in order to gain time or postpone a decision, sometimes in order to reach a compromise or simply to make a conversation more temperate.
  • v. To comply with the time or occasion; to humor, or yield to, the current of opinion or circumstances; also, to trim, as between two parties.
  • v. To delay; to procrastinate.
  • v. To comply; to agree.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To comply with the time or occasion; to humor, or yield to, the current of opinion or circumstances; also, to trim, as between two parties.
  • transitive v. To delay; to procrastinate.
  • transitive v. To comply; to agree.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To comply with the time or occasion, or with the desires of another; yield temporarily or ostensibly to the current of opinion or circumstances.
  • To parley.
  • To dilly-dally; delay; procrastinate.
  • Also spelled temporise.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. draw out a discussion or process in order to gain time

Etymologies

French temporiser, from Old French, from Medieval Latin temporizāre, to pass one's time, from Latin tempus, tempor-, time.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Clipping of temperate +‎ -ize. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Cowardice is called meekness; to temporize is to be charitable and reverent; to speak truth, and shame the devil, is to offend weak brethren, who, somehow or other, never complain of their weak consciences till you hit them hard.

    Alton Locke, Tailor and Poet An Autobiography

  • Gorbachev was more of a juggler, somebody who would kind of temporize, try to find compromises eternally, and that was very important.

    Lenin's Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire

  • Against his will and against his nature he began to temporize, meaning later to revenge his present humiliation upon his son.

    Winnie Childs The Shop Girl

  • It's about the brutal perfidy of the Conservative government, its gall, its utter lack of class, its willingness to cover up, to prevaricate, to temporize: hell, to lie its way out of a tight spot.

    Torturegate North: the "6,000-mile screwdriver"

  • The other candidates in that election, had one of them won, would have continued to temporize, while Lincoln, in his own seemingly tentative style, refused to budge on the Republican Party's raison d'etre of no expansion of slavery into the territories.

    John Marszalek: What if Lincoln lost the election?

  • The slow and ugly approach is to mitigate, temporize and forestall to give us time to work ourselves out of difficulties.

    Notable & Quotable

  • Your partner opens one diamond, you respond one spade, he bids two clubs and you temporize with two hearts.

    Bridge

  • For a while, the Treasury can temporize with creative accounting, shifting money from one pile to another, and the like.

    The Debt Ceiling Fiasco

  • Before you temporize and go too far with the fish grab agenda, you need to first determine where we are actually losing the fish.

    Striped Bass Are Gamefish

  • "If I thought she would be [in] menopause in another six months, we could probably temporize with iron or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs even," says Dr. Goldstein, who is also professor of obstetrics and gynecology at NYU Langone Medical Center.

    Blood Test May Be Able To Predict Menopause

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