“When implored by both the angel and the demon, he had a hard time siding against either. Therefore, he equivocated for many hours.”

What is the best definition of equivocate?

Check your answer!

Choice A - To pretend to commit to a position or belief
Choice B - To speak ambiguously to avoid taking a stance
Choice C - To speak in a way that is flattering or ingratiating
Choice D - To weigh one object or thing against another


Equivocate (verb) – to use ambiguous language in order to conceal the truth or to avoid committing to a specific position

Equivocation (noun) – the use ambiguous language to conceal the truth or avoid committing to a position; or, a deliberately ambiguous or evasive statement itself

GRE pro tips:

Like the more common words vocal and vocalize, equivocate is derived from the Latin root voc meaning “call,” “speak,” or “say,” so you know it has to do with talking. Given that its other root, equi, means “equal” or “both sides the same,” it makes sense that to equivocate means to talk on both sides of an issue, while not giving a clear and honest perspective. Political candidates commonly employ equivocation during political debates: in an effort to cater to their entire political constituency, they may avoid taking clear stances. But, equivocation may be used in many different scenarios: for instance, by a child who is caught making a mess, or by an interviewee who is asked about his (poor) performance in a former role.

It is important to note that equivocate is similar to another GRE word: equivocal. To be equivocal means to be ambiguous or uncertain in nature; similarly, to equivocate about something means to speak in a way that is ambiguous (or equivocal).

Example sentences:

“I would rather he be honest with me than equivocate, even if he’s trying to spare my feelings.”

“Lou usually equivocates when asked about his performance at his previous job.”