Definitions

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

  • n. An ambiguous or equivocal statement.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Amphiboly.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A phrase, discourse, or proposition, susceptible of two interpretations; and hence, of uncertain meaning. It differs from equivocation, which arises from the twofold sense of a single term.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The use of ambiguous phrases or statements.
  • n. In logic, a sentence which is ambiguous from uncertainty with regard to its construction, but not from uncertainty with regard to the meaning of the words forming it.

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

  • n. an ambiguous grammatical construction; e.g., `they are flying planes' can mean either that someone is flying planes or that something is flying planes

Etymologies

French amphibologie, from Late Latin amphibologia : Latin amphibo(lia), ambiguity (from Greek amphiboliā, from amphibolos, doubtful; see amphibole) + Latin -logia, -logy (added on the model of such words as tautologia, tautology).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French amphibologie, from late Latin amphibologia, earlier amphibolia, from Ancient Greek ἀμφιβολία ("ambiguity"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • This artifice is called equivocation or amphibology; it consists in the use of words that have a natural double meaning; it supposes in him who resorts to it the right to conceal the truth, a right superior to that of the tormentor who questions him.

    Explanation of Catholic Morals A Concise, Reasoned, and Popular Exposition of Catholic Morals

  • It had been an excellent Quære52 to have posed the Devil of Delphos, 53 and must needs have forced him to some strange amphibology.

    Paras 36-70

  • He spoke of him afterwards as “that amphibolous being sitting calmly and unmoved on the throne of amphibology, while he cheats and deludes us by his double meaning, covert phraseology, and claps his hands when he sees us involved in his insidious figures of speech, as a spider rejoices over a captured fly.”

    Luther and Other Leaders of the Reformation

  • Abbreviated by subsequent usage to _bête-'ni-pié_, the appellation has amphibology; -- for there are two words _ni_ in the patois, one signifying "to have," and the other "naked."

    Two Years in the French West Indies

  • Solomon looked astonished — “Xantippe, the wife of Socrates,” said he, “is recorded a termagant and a scold, but with her acetosity his philosophy enabled him to bear; but it is apodictical to me, that whoever has the misfortune to marry you will, without amphibology, have more occasion for patience and philosophy than ever Socrates had.”

    Lovers and Friends; or, Modern Attachments

  • It had been an excellent quaere to have posed the devil of Delphos, and must needs have forced him to some strange amphibology.

    Religio Medici, Hydriotaphia, and the Letter to a Friend

  • AEtolians and Romans, about the winning of a battle they had with their joined forces obtained, made it of some importance, that in the Greek songs they had put the AEtolians before the Romans: if there be no amphibology in the words of the French translation.

    The Essays of Montaigne — Complete

  • [114] and must needs have forced him to some strange amphibology.

    Religio Medici

  • B) you need to first teach them what an equivocation or amphibology fallacy is, before they're even equipped to understand why the study doesn't actually say what they think it says

    "MAIN" via Steve in Google Reader

  • The world is composed (samskrta) of the stuff of dispositions (samskâra); the two words in their amphibology capture the flimsy fabric of the dependently arisen, its emptiness (see Kapani I

    Joseph S. O'Leary homepage

Comments

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  • Have you ever met anyone who talks like this? :)

    September 21, 2011

  • JM quibbles over the usage of amphibology and amphiboly.

    October 26, 2010