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

  • intransitive v. To use evasions or ambiguities; equivocate.
  • intransitive v. To change sides; apostatize.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To evade, to equivocate using subterfuge; to deliberately obfuscate.
  • v. To change sides or affiliation; to apostatize.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To shift; to practice evasion; to use subterfuges; to shuffle.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To shift; practise evasion; make use of shifts or subterfuges.

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

  • v. abandon one's beliefs or allegiances
  • v. be deliberately ambiguous or unclear in order to mislead or withhold information


Latin tergiversārī, tergiversāt- : tergum, the back + versāre, to turn; see wer-2 in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin tergiversor ("turn one's back, make excuses"); from tergum ("the back") + versō, frequentive of vertō ("turn"). (Wiktionary)


  • At they went for "tergiversate" - perhaps to force people to use to look up what the hell the word even means. | Top Stories

  • Not really do we preserve the unexcelled prices but our turnaround tergiversate payment your Xrumer posting is wonderful fast.

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  • But unfortunately the expulsion of James II, which he called his "abdication," compelled him to use all reserve, to shuffle and to tergiversate, in order to avoid making William out a usurper.

    The Social Contract

  • To tergiversate is to: a. restore a piece of land from a state of despoilment.

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  • The testimony which stirred up the bile of the holy fathers could not but be given, unless you had been willing basely to tergiversate and to expose yourself to their taunts. "

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