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From Middle French temporiser (to wait one's time, temporize) + English -ize (suffix forming verbs). Temporiser is derived from Medieval Latin temporizāre, from Latin temporāre (to delay, put off) + -izāre (suffix forming the present active infinitive of verbs). Temporāre is derived from tempor-, the inflected stem of tempus (age, time, period; season of the year; due, opportune, or proper time)[1] (ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *temp-, *ten- (to extend, stretch (in the sense of a stretch of time)), or *temh₂- (to cut (in the sense of a section of time))) + -āre.



temporize (third-person singular simple present temporizes, present participle temporizing, simple past and past participle temporized) (American spelling, Oxford British English)

  1. (intransitive) To deliberately act evasively or prolong a discussion in order to gain time or postpone a decision, sometimes so that a compromise can be reached or simply to make a conversation more temperate; to stall for time.
  2. (intransitive, by extension) To discuss, to negotiate; to reach a compromise.
  3. (transitive, dentistry) To apply a temporary piece of dental work that will later be removed.
  4. (intransitive, archaic) To comply with the occasion or time; to humour, or yield to, current circumstances or opinion; also, to trim (fluctuate between parties, so as to appear to favour each).
    • 1595, Samuel Daniel, “The Fovvrth Booke”, in The First Fowre Bookes of the Ciuile Wars between the Two Houses of Lancaster and Yorke, London: [] P[eter] Short for Simon Waterson, OCLC 28470143, stanza 102, folio [85], recto:
      Yet ſeeking at the firſt to temporize, / She tries if that ſome ſhort impriſonment / would calme their heat; when that would not ſuffize, / Then to exile him ſhee muſt needes conſent: [...]
    • 1624, Democritus Junior [pseudonym; Robert Burton], “Against Pouerty and Want, with Such Other Adversity”, in The Anatomy of Melancholy: [], 2nd edition, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Printed by John Lichfield and James Short, for Henry Cripps, OCLC 54573970, partition 2, section 3, member 3, page 268:
      Happy he, in that he is freed from the tumults of the world, hee ſeekes no honours, gapes after no preferment, flatters not, envies not, temporizeth not, but liues priuately, and well contented with his eſtate, [...]
    • 1627, E. F. [i.e., Elizabeth Cary, Viscountess Falkland], The History of the Life, Reign, and Death of Edward II, King of England, and Lord of Ireland: [], London: [] J. C. for Charles Harper [...] Samuel Crouch [...] and Thomas Fox [...], published 1680, OCLC 1171083400, lines 301–302; republished in Randall Martin, editor, Women Writers in Renaissance England, Abingdon, Oxfordshire; New York, N.Y.: Routledge, 2014, →ISBN, part 2 (Prose), page 176:
      Though that her heart were fired, and swollen with anger, she temporiseth so, 'twas undiscovered: [...]
    • 1751 December (indicated as 1752), Henry Fielding, “A Curious Conversation between the Doctor, the Young Clergyman, and the Young Clergyman’s Father”, in Amelia, volume III, London: [] [William Strahan] for A[ndrew] Millar [], OCLC 1159707239, book IX, page 322:
      How do you expect to riſe in the Church, if you can't temporize, and give into the Opinion of your Superiors?
    • 1849, Thomas Babington Macaulay, chapter VIII, in The History of England from the Accession of James II, volume II, London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, OCLC 1069526323, page 298:
      [William] Penn, therefore, exhorted the fellows not to rely on the goodness of their cause, but to submit, or at least to temporise.
  5. (intransitive, obsolete) To delay, especially until a more favourable time; to procrastinate.


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  1. ^ temporize, v.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, 1911; “temporize, v.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.