I won’t do this often but I just can’t resist . . . .
Sometimes a piece of learning fits in so well, is so right, and so humorous . . . . that you just have to share it.
I was a dictionary.com double-checking the definition of apostasy before I made a fool of myself in a future post (not that that has ever prevented it ;-)) when an advertisement for Visual Thesaurus listed the related words as being: defection, renunciation, and tergiversation.
Never having seen the last word, I had to look it up immediately. So let me save you the trouble . . . .
The Visual Thesaurus shows it as being between equivocation and apostasy.
The dictionary.com definition is fairly neutral:
- to change repeatedly one’s attitude or opinions with respect to a cause, subject, etc.; equivocate.
- to turn renegade.Origin:
1645–55; < L tergiversātus (ptp. of tergiversārī to turn one’s back), equiv. to tergi- (comb. form of tergum back) + versātus, ptp. of versāre, freq. of vertere to turn; see -ate
The American Heritage dictionary is a bit more blunt:
- To use evasions or ambiguities; equivocate.
- To change sides; apostatize.
The Online Etymology Dictionary is even clearer:
turning dishonestly from a straightforward action or statement; shifting, shuffling, equivocation, 1570, from L. tergiversationem (nom. tergiversatio) “a shifting, evasion,” from tergiversari “turn one’s back on, evade,” from tergum “the back” (of unknown origin) + versare “to spin, turn” (see versus).
Yes, folks, I give you “tregiversation” — the Inquisition’s version of that political staple we call “flip-flopping”. So if you want to show off your intellectual chops, use it wisely (and don’t forget to credit this blog ;-))