Sometimes it is Greek: Tergiversation

There is no tergiversation in this court!

Each week, “It’s not GREek!” will discuss a new word likely to appear on the GRE.  We aim not only to give you a new word to memorize, but also to provide you with some background and etymological history to help you remember it.  At the end of the post, we will also give you a sentence with a few other new words to add to your flash cards.  By following this weekly series, you should be more prepared than ever to tackle the sentence completion, sentence equivalencies, and reading comprehension questions on test day.

This Week’s Word:  Tergiversation

Politicians are probably the group most maligned for their tergiversation.

Stop being so wishy-washy! Tergiversation means the evasion of straightforward action or clear-cut statement, in other words, equivocation.  It can also mean to delay answering or to hesitate at length.

Politicians are probably the group most maligned for their tergiversation.  Likewise, if your grandfather has  been a diehard Republican all his life and suddenly starts voting straight down the Democrat party line, you can chide him for his tergiversation.

Other creatures frequently accused of tergiversation? Tricky foxes, for instance.

A literary figure famous for his tergiversations? How about Hamlet, forever vacillating on whether to be or not to be.

The origins of tergiversation are initially Latin, from tergiversari, which means to turn one’s back or shift.  In Latin, tergum means “back” and versare means “to turn.” The two words combine to form the verb tergiversari.

Sample Sentence:

Tommy tormented Troy with his transitory opinions on characterization; this tergiversation caused many trials and tribulations to transpire between the two thespians.

Miss last week’s “Sometimes it is Greek?” Check it out here.  Want more GRE vocabulary? Click here for the free TestMasters GRE vocabulary list with over 2,000 words!

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