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#17334 - 01/27/01 05:23 PM Tergiversation

Someone recently mentioned having been 'punished' in grammar school by being forced to photocopy pages from a dictionary, saying that they received additional reprimands for pausing to *read* the pages they copied, and it reminded me of my love, as a child, for thumbing through a dictionary for pleasure (and no, i wasn't just looking up the naughty words).

i'm wondering if this was something that many of us have in common? has the love of words been a lifelong passion for all of us?

i remember my favorite word as a very young child being "tergiversate", and i used it every chance i could. i've never heard it used, nor seen it in print, so i'm curious... has anyone else ever encountered this word? anyone use it? it means 'to make use of subterfuge; to be shifty or vacillating'

i've always wondered if i even use it in the right context; i think of it now most often when my children try to wrangle their way out of a sticky situation.


Ipsa scientia potestas est ~Bacon

#17335 - 01/27/01 05:57 PM Re: Tergiversation
AnnaStrophic Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 6511
Loc: lower upstate New York
hey, bridget

To this day, when I look up a word, I get lost in the dictionary and have to concentrate to remember what it was I was looking up.

By the way, we used to have a poster here named Tergiversator. It was the first time I'd ever seen the word.

#17336 - 01/27/01 06:23 PM Re: Tergiversation
wwh Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 13858
Dear Ste. Bridget: I've seen tergiversation a few times, mostly when someone proud of their vocabulary was really trying to sock it to someone whose talents they did not admire, and wanted to put down for equivocating.(And wanted to humiliate them by making them look it up.)

#17337 - 01/27/01 07:55 PM Re: Tergiversation
Rapunzel Offline

Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 328
Loc: Eastern Pennsylvania
I too have spent many pleasant hours looking up one word! There always seems to be another word that comes to mind, or an interesting one at the top of the page, or etc...

I and my brothers also spent a lot of time as children leafing through the encyclopedia. I have been a trivia buff ever since.

I've seen tergiversation several times in novels, but I don't think I have ever heard it used in conversation. I may have to introduce it purposely-- it has such a nice rhythm to it.

#17338 - 01/27/01 09:09 PM Re: Tergiversation
Solamente, Doug. Offline

Registered: 12/16/00
Posts: 130
Loc: Virginia
Yes, I too am guilty of leafing through the dictionary intent on finding one definition and going far abook in my search. I'm sure I'm not the only one here to get so distracted that I forget the word I came to look up in the first place.

My other vice of referentia is "reading" the Atlas. Mine's an oversize National Geographic that I usually peruse in bed (much to my wife's amusement, God bless her!).

#17339 - 01/27/01 09:30 PM Re: Dictionary
wow Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 11/25/00
Posts: 3439
Loc: New England, USA
Reading the dictionary has always been a joy to me. As I read the posts I put my hand out and it landed on (Surprise!) "The New York Times Everyday Reader's Dictionary of Misunderstood, Misused, Mispronounced Words."
Opened at random and landed on CELATURE (sel'achoore) : the process of embossing metal.
Made one more try for a word I might actually have a use for sometime and up came
HOMOGRAPH meaning a word spelt but not necessarily sounded in the same way as another, and with a different meaning, as tear to rip, and tear to fill with tears, to cry.
Now that's a word I could perhaps find a use for!

#17340 - 01/27/01 10:30 PM Re: Tergiversation
tsuwm Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/03/00
Posts: 10538
Loc: this too shall pass
since I seem to be quoting some of my favorite writers today, herewith is another:

>>"The court's decision in favor of Count Wintergrin," said Himmelfarb, imitating the tired, tiresome archness of Razzia and his euphuistic style, "is a tergiversation for the German people." << Buckley, Stained Glass, p. 68.

#17341 - 01/28/01 04:51 AM Re: Tergiversation
juanmaria Offline

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 163
Loc: Malaga, Spain.
I remember reading dictionaries as a kid, the different letters were like chapters in a novel and I remember having my favorites: H, Y and Z.
Our Spanish version “tergiversar/tergiversación” is a very common word even in informal conversation. It appears at most angry discussions, in those situations is very common that your opponent tries using your own words against you, at this point we always reply: “¡Estás tergiversando lo que he dicho!/You’re tergiversating what I’ve said!”.
I don’t know if this is a case of false friends but, before reading this thread, I wouldn’t have doubted using this word in English.
So, what is the correct word to use when someone is making subtle changes on your words or in its intonation in order to change the purported meaning of them?.

#17342 - 01/28/01 05:54 AM Re: Tergiversation
Capital Kiwi Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 11/13/00
Posts: 3146
Loc: Northamptonshire, England
Juanmaria asked: So, what is the correct word to use when someone is making subtle changes on your words or in its intonation in order to change the purported meaning of them?

I'd probably say again, as I have in the past, "Stop twisting the meaning of what I'm saying to suit yourself!"

The idiot also known as Capfka ...

#17343 - 01/28/01 08:45 AM Re: Tergiversation
emanuela Offline

Registered: 03/16/00
Posts: 315
Loc: Italy - Perugia is a town with...
I am loosing myself now in the net, as before in the enciclopedias...
We use tergiversare too, but with a different meaning: we mean to to avoid a problem, trying to take time .

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