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verb (used without object), pre·var·i·cat·ed, pre·var·i·cat·ing.
  1. to speak falsely or misleadingly; deliberately misstate or create an incorrect impression; lie.
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Origin of prevaricate

1575–85; < Latin praevāricātus, past participle of praevāricārī to straddle something, (of an advocate) collude with an opponent's advocate, equivalent to prae- pre- + vāricāre to straddle, derivative of vārus bent outwards, bow-legged
Related formspre·var·i·ca·tion, nounpre·var·i·ca·tive, pre·var·i·ca·to·ry [pri-var-i-kuh-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee] /prɪˈvær ɪ kəˌtɔr i, -ˌtoʊr i/, adjectiveun·pre·var·i·cat·ing, adjective

Synonyms for prevaricate

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for prevaricate

cavil, shuffle, invent, misrepresent, lie, equivocate, fib, falsify, garble, dodge, tergiversate, distort, palter, hedge, exaggerate, fabricate, shift, evade, belie, quibble

Examples from the Web for prevaricate

Contemporary Examples of prevaricate

Historical Examples of prevaricate

  • He does not shuffle or prevaricate, dodge or skulk; but is honest, upright, and straightforward.


    Samuel Smiles

  • Do you say this to irritate and offend me, or do you prevaricate out of shame?

    A Day's Ride

    Charles James Lever

  • It is so hard for him to prevaricate: and it is bitter as death to tell the truth, now.

    A War-Time Wooing

    Charles King

  • Florio was vain enough to prevaricate on a matter of this nature.

  • He told the truth, just as some boys quibble and prevaricate, simply and naturally.

    The Hill

    Horace Annesley Vachell

British Dictionary definitions for prevaricate


  1. (intr) to speak or act falsely or evasively with intent to deceive
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Derived Formsprevarication, nounprevaricator, noun

Word Origin for prevaricate

C16: from Latin praevāricārī to walk crookedly, from prae beyond + vāricare to straddle the legs; compare Latin vārus bent
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 prevaricate


1580s, "to transgress," a back formation from prevarication, or else from Latin praevaricatus, past participle of praevaricari "to make a sham accusation, deviate," literally "walk crookedly;" in Church Latin, "to transgress" (see prevarication). Meaning "to speak evasively" is from 1630s. Related: Prevaricated; prevaricating.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper