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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; transgression, perversion.
  2. Evasion of the truth; deceit, evasiveness.
    Prevarication became the order of the day in his government while truth was a stranger in those halls.
    • 1779, William Cowper, Retirement
      The august tribunal of the skies, where no prevarication shall avail.
    • 2012, The Economist, Oct 6th 2012, Charlemagne: Mysterious Mariano
      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. (law, historical, Ancient Rome) 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.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Cowell to this entry?)

Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for prevarication in
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.)

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Middle French[edit]


prevarication f (plural prevarications)

  1. prevarication (deviation from what is right)


  • English: prevarication
  • French: prévarication