Word curio icon

Word Curio

June 12, 2019

Word of the Day: Equivocal

2 CQ

Word of the Day : June 12, 2019

equivocal \ih-KWIV-uh-kul\ adjective


1 a : subject to two or more interpretations and usually used to mislead or confuse

b : uncertain as an indication or sign

2 a : of uncertain nature or classification

b : of uncertain disposition toward a person or thing : undecided

c : of doubtful advantage, genuineness, or moral rectitude

Did You Know?

Equivocal, vague, and ambiguous all mean "not clearly understandable" and are used to describe confusing speech or writing. Equivocal—which can be traced back to the Latin prefix aequi- (equi-) and the Latin word vox ("voice")—applies to language left open to differing interpretations with the intention of deceiving or evading ("moral precepts with equivocal phrasing"). Vague implies a lack of clear formulation due to inadequate conception or consideration ("I had only a vague idea of how to get there"). Ambiguous, like equivocal, applies to language capable of more than one interpretation but usually does not have the negative connotations of deception or evasion ("the poet's wording is intentionally ambiguous").

Aired June 12, 2019

All Merriam-Webster content is available at

  • Recommended Recommended
  • History & In Progress History
  • Browse Library
  • Most Popular Library

Get Personalized Recommendations

Let us help you figure out what to learn! By taking a short interview you’ll be able to specify your learning interests and goals, so we can recommend the perfect courses and lessons to try next.

Start Interview

You don't have any lessons in your history.
Just find something that looks interesting and start learning!

500 characters max