weasel word


noun

a word used to temper the forthrightness of a statement; a word that makes one's views equivocal, misleading, or confusing.

Nearby words

  1. wearproof,
  2. weary,
  3. weasand,
  4. weasel,
  5. weasel out,
  6. weasel words,
  7. weaselly,
  8. weather,
  9. weather advisory,
  10. weather balloon

Origin of weasel word

An Americanism dating back to 1895–1900

Related formswea·sel-word·ed, adjective

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019


British Dictionary definitions for weasel words

weasel words

pl n

informal intentionally evasive or misleading speech; equivocation
Derived Formsweasel-worded, adjective

Word Origin for weasel words

C20: alluding to the weasel's supposed ability to suck an egg out of its shell without seeming to break the shell

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

Idioms and Phrases with weasel words

weasel word

A word used to deprive a statement of its force or evade a direct commitment, as in Calling it “organized spontaneity” is using a weasel word; “organized” has sucked the meaning out of “spontaneity.” This idiom may allude to the weasel's habit of sucking the contents out of a bird's egg, so that only the shell remains. [Late 1800s]

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.