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See also: prévarication



From Anglo-Norman prevaricassion, Middle French prevarication, and their source, Latin praevāricātiō (collusion with an opponent; transgression; deceit), from the stem of praevāricor.


  • (non-merged vowel) IPA(key): /pɹɪˌvæɹɪˈkeɪʃən/
    • (file)
  • (merged vowel) IPA(key): /pɹɪˌvæɹəˈkeɪʃən/
  • Rhymes: -eɪʃən


prevarication (countable and uncountable, plural prevarications)

  1. (now rare) Deviation from what is right or correct.
    Synonyms: transgression, perversion
  2. Evasion of the truth.
    Synonyms: deceit, evasiveness
    Prevarication became the order of the day in his government while truth was a stranger in those halls.
    • 1782, William Cowper, “Retirement”, in Poems, London: [] J[oseph] Johnson, [], →OCLC, page 291:
      The trumpet—vvill it ſound? the curtain riſe? And ſhow th' auguſt tribunal of the ſkies, / VVhere no prevarication ſhall avail, / VVhere eloquence and artifice ſhall fail, []
    • 1861, George Eliot [pseudonym; Mary Ann Evans], chapter XIII, in Silas Marner: The Weaver of Raveloe, Edinburgh; London: William Blackwood and Sons, →OCLC, part I, page 239:
      The prevarication and white lies which a mind that keeps itself ambitiously pure is as uneasy under as a great artist under the false touches that no eye detects but his own, are worn as lightly as mere trimmings when once the actions have become a lie.
    • 2012 October 6, “Charlemagne: Mysterious Mariano”, in The Economist[1]:
      Mr Rajoy frustrates many with his prevarication over a fresh euro-zone bail-out, which now comes with a conditional promise from the European Central Bank (ECB) to help bring down Spain’s stifling borrowing costs.
  3. A secret abuse in the exercise of a public office.
  4. (Ancient Rome, law, historical) The collusion of an informer with the defendant, for the purpose of making a sham prosecution.
  5. (law) A false or deceitful seeming to undertake a thing for the purpose of defeating or destroying it.
    • 1628, Robert Le Grys, Argenis, translation of original by John Barclay:
      If it shall appeare, that they haue forfeited their Faith, or wronged their Client by preuarication.

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Middle French[edit]


prevarication f (plural prevarications)

  1. prevarication (deviation from what is right)


  • English: prevarication
  • French: prévarication