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tergiversate

[tur-ji-ver-seyt]
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verb (used without object), ter·gi·ver·sat·ed, ter·gi·ver·sat·ing.
  1. to change repeatedly one's attitude or opinions with respect to a cause, subject, etc.; equivocate.
  2. to turn renegade.
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Origin of tergiversate

1645–55; < Latin tergiversātus (past participle of tergiversārī to turn one's back), equivalent to tergi- (combining form of tergum back) + versātus, past participle of versāre, frequentative of vertere to turn; see -ate1
Related formster·gi·ver·sa·tion, nounter·gi·ver·sa·tor, ter·gi·ver·sant [tur-ji-vur-suh nt] /ˌtɜr dʒɪˈvɜr sənt/, nounter·gi·ver·sa·to·ry [tur-ji-vur-suh-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee] /ˌtɜr dʒɪˈvɜr səˌtɔr i, -ˌtoʊr i/, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for tergiversation

tergiversate

verb (intr)
  1. to change sides or loyalties; apostatize
  2. to be evasive or ambiguous; equivocate
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Derived Formstergiversation, nountergiversator or tergiversant (ˈtɜːdʒɪˌvɜːsənt), nountergiversatory, adjective

Word Origin

C17: from Latin tergiversārī to turn one's back, from tergum back + vertere to turn
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for tergiversation

n.

turning dishonestly from a straightforward action or statement; shifting, shuffling, equivocation, 1560s, from Latin tergiversationem (nominative tergiversatio) "a shifting, evasion," from past participle stem of tergiversari "turn one's back on, evade," from tergum "the back" (of unknown origin) + versare "to spin, turn" (see versus).

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tergiversate

v.

1650s, from Latin tergiversatus, past participle of tergiversari "be evasive," literally "to turn one's back" (see tergiversation). Related: Tergiversated; tergiversating.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper