Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Open to two or more interpretations and often intended to conceal the truth. synonym: ambiguous.
  • adjective Characterized by a mixture of opposing elements and therefore questionable or uncertain.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Being of doubtful signification; capable of being understood in different senses; ambiguous; doubtful: as, an equivocal word, term, or sense; an equivocal answer.
  • Of doubtful quality, origin, or significance; capable of being ascribed to different motives or causes; suspicious; dubious: as, an equivocal character; equivocal relations; an equivocal reputation.
  • Equivocating.
  • Synonyms Doubtful, Ambiguous, etc. (see obscure, a.); indeterminate.
  • noun A word or term of doubtful meaning, or capable of different interpretations.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun A word or expression capable of different meanings; an ambiguous term; an equivoque.
  • adjective (Literally, called equally one thing or the other; hence:) Having two significations equally applicable; capable of double interpretation; of doubtful meaning; ambiguous; uncertain
  • adjective Capable of being ascribed to different motives, or of signifying opposite feelings, purposes, or characters; deserving to be suspected.
  • adjective Uncertain, as an indication or sign; doubtful.
  • adjective (Mus.) a chord which can be resolved into several distinct keys; one whose intervals, being all minor thirds, do not clearly indicate its fundamental tone or root; the chord of the diminished triad, and the diminished seventh.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A word or expression capable of different meanings; an ambiguous term; an equivoque.
  • adjective Literally Having two or more significations equally applicable; capable of double or multiple interpretation; of doubtful meaning; ambiguous; uncertain; as, equivocal words; an equivocal sentence.
  • adjective Capable of being ascribed to different motives, or of signifying opposite feelings, purposes, or characters; deserving to be suspected; as, his actions are equivocal.
  • adjective Uncertain, as an indication or sign; doubtful, incongruous.

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

  • adjective open to question
  • adjective uncertain as a sign or indication
  • adjective open to two or more interpretations; or of uncertain nature or significance; or (often) intended to mislead

Etymologies

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

[From Late Latin aequivocus : Latin aequi-, equi- + Latin vocāre, to call; see wekw- in Indo-European roots.]

Examples

  • It seems like modern games require certain equivocal traits in order to be considered "good".

    Simplicity's Bad?

  • Men lifted an eyebrow and called it "equivocal" -- to use the phrase of

    Little Journeys to the Homes of the Great - Volume 13 Little Journeys to the Homes of Great Lovers

  • Accordingly, they sometimes put down their thoughts in bits, in short, equivocal, and paradoxical sentences which appear to mean much more than they say (a splendid example of this kind of writing is furnished by Schelling’s treatises on

    Essays of Schopenhauer

  • Accordingly, they sometimes put down their thoughts in bits, in short, equivocal, and paradoxical sentences which appear to mean much more than they say (a splendid example of this kind of writing is furnished by Schelling's treatises on

    Essays of Schopenhauer

  • Suppose those terms equivocal, and to be taken in one sense by him, and by them in another, and nothing can be rightly concluded from what is spoken of them.

    The Doctrine of Justification by Faith

  • But, without passing into the sphere of ethics, there are two cases — known as the equivocal right of equity and necessity — which claim a juridical decision, yet for which no one can be found to give such a decision, and which, as regards their relation to rights, belong, as it were, to the

    The Science of Right

  • The results, described as equivocal, indicate that at the current state of research, meditation can be at best considered an adjunctive therapy when it comes to treating anxiety and mood disorders - most studies failed to demonstrate it as a reliable primary method of treating these conditions.

    Brain Blogger

  • The results, described as equivocal, indicate that at the current state of research, meditation can be at best considered an adjunctive therapy when it comes to treating anxiety and mood disorders - most studies failed to demonstrate it as a reliable primary method of treating these conditions.

    Brain Blogger

  • The results, described as equivocal, indicate that at the current state of research, meditation can be at best considered an adjunctive therapy when it comes to treating anxiety and mood disorders - most studies failed to demonstrate it as a reliable primary method of treating these conditions.

    Brain Blogger

  • And so there is this kind of equivocal issue of how to interpret it.

    Gettysburg, Ground Zero: Secular Sacred Spaces

Comments

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  • adjective: confusing or ambiguous

    The findings of the study were equivocal—the two researchers had different opinions on what the results signified.

    October 11, 2016