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December 01, 2011


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Marc Leavitt

Tergiversate falls under the category of words we like to use when we're fifteen and we want to impress our elders. I think I firt came across it in the short stories of Edgar Allen Poe. He also liked to use ratiocinate - another word no one uses.

Virtual Linguist

Thanks, Marc.


The etymology is quite interesting, from Latin, it means "to turn one's back". In Italian the verb "tergiversare" is widely understood and used, in spoken Italian mainly as a negative imperative ("non tergiversare!"), but it has a different meaning, mainly "prevaricate" but also "behave in an evasive way".

Virtual Linguist

Thanks, Licia. Yes, that is interesting.

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