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From the participle stem of Latin praevāricārī (to walk crookedly, to play a false or double part), from prae- + vāricāre (to stand with feet apart, straddle), from vārus (deviating from the right line, bent outwards, different), from Proto-Indo-European *wā- (to bend apart) (the root of various).


  • (UK) IPA(key): /pɹɪˈvaɹɪkeɪt/
  • (US) IPA(key): /pɹɪˈvæɹɪkeɪt/, /pɹɪˈvɛɹɪkeɪt/
  • (file)


prevaricate (third-person singular simple present prevaricates or (archaic) prevaricateth, present participle prevaricating, simple past and past participle prevaricated)

  1. (transitive, intransitive, obsolete) To deviate, transgress; to go astray (from).
  2. (intransitive) To shift or turn from direct speech or behaviour; to evade the truth; to waffle or be (intentionally) ambiguous.
    The people saw the politician prevaricate every day.
  3. (intransitive, law) To collude, as where an informer colludes with the defendant, and makes a sham prosecution.
  4. (law, Britain) To undertake something falsely and deceitfully, with the purpose of defeating or destroying it.

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