Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Entry: prevarication (n.)

In context: "At a juncture like this, men and boys get separated in terms of prevarication, I submit."

Definition: Avoidance of straightforward statement of the truth; equivocation, evasiveness, misrepresentation; deceit; an instance of this.

Other: I love this word, as well.  There are several different senses in which it can be taken, though I think the above is most appropriate given the passage.  

One slightly-different sense, which is related in an interesting way, is this:

Divergence from a straight line or course. Obs. rare.

...which itself has two fascinating early usages:

1600   P. Holland tr. Pliny Hist. World xviii. xix. i. 579   The ploughman, unlesse he bend and stoupe forward..must..leave much undone as it ought to be; a fault which in Latine we call Prevarication [L. arator nisi incurvus praevaricatur]: and this tearme appropriate unto Husbandrie, is borrowed from thence by Lawyers.]
 

1672   I. Newton Let. 10 Dec. in Corr. (1959) I. 249   How much those errors..are increased or diminished is to be estimated by the prevarication of the rays.



SNOOT score: 4 (if you go on to explain precisely why you're using prevaricate instead of something more common), but 3 otherwise.
 
Page: 1048

Source: Oxford English Dictionary   

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