weasel word

Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search



  • Some people say that weasel words are great!” (who?)

weasel word (plural weasel words)

  1. (derogatory) A word used to qualify a statement so as to make it potentially misleading.
    Synonym: hedge
    Hypernym: qualifier
    • 1900. Century Magazine, quoted in Facts on File Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins by Robert Hendrickson (New York: Facts on File Publications, 1987)).
      Weasel words are words that suck all of the life out of the words next to them just as a weasel sucks an egg and leaves the shell.
    • May 31 1916, Theodore Roosevelt, speech delivered in St. Louis, MO:
      Now, you can have universal training or you can have voluntary training, but when you use the word 'voluntary' to qualify the word 'universal', you are using a weasel word; it has sucked all the meaning out of 'universal'. The two words flatly contradict one another.



weasel-word (third-person singular simple present weasel words, present participle weasel wording, simple past and past participle weasel worded)

  1. To use weasel words.
    • 1979, Peter Straub, Ghost Story:
      Now Sears looked down at the person fate had put closer to him than anyone else in the world, and knew that Ricky was thinking that he had weasel-worded his way out of the last question.

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]