weasel out

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weasel out (third-person singular simple present weasels out, present participle weaseling out or weaselling out, simple past and past participle weaseled out or weaselled out)

  1. (idiomatic, intransitive, often followed by of) To shirk, avoid, or fail to fulfill (a task, responsibility, etc.)
    • 1990 Dec 24, "Table of Contents: Is Uncle Sam Being Suckered?," Time:
      With the costs of Desert Shield likely to double, Congress fumes at those allies who seem to be weaseling out of their pledges to help.
    • 2009 Sept 10, "Obama's Big Test," Newsweek (retrieved 16 May 2011):
      And if they try to weasel out that way, Obama is warning them that he'll "call them out."
  2. (idiomatic, transitive) To obtain or extract, especially with effort and by cunning methods.
    • 1992 28 Sept., Stanley Reed, "Regarding Henry, Warily" (Book review of Kissinger by Walter Isaacson), Businessweek (retrieved 16 May 2011):
      In an effort to ingratiate himself with the 1968 Nixon campaign, Kissinger offered inside tips that he had weaseled out of friends privy to the Johnson Administration's talks with the North Vietnamese.
    • 1993 Apr 10, Steve McKerrow, "Movie shows cheerleader case getting too much media rah-rah," Baltimore Sun, p. 1D:
      [S]ome of the characters we see among the blitzing media—a Houston TV reporter, an "Inside Edition" researcher and this film's producer and writer, James Manos Jr. and Jane Anderson—play themselves, each trying to weasel out the real inside story.