Trivia Teaser

Originating in South America, what is 'quinoa'?


Procrastination - thief of time


By Miranda

I'm finding it really difficult to get started today - I'm finding a thousand reasons to shillyshally, dither and generally avoid just writing something.
And it's not helped by the difficulty in selecting the right word. Honestly!

Would I lie to you? Well, I hope not. But apparently I may now prevaricate without lying, as long as I refrain from making my mind up as to what I want to say and especially if I quibble about it.

Confused? Well, so am I. I thought that to prevaricate was to - and now I'm quoting directly from Collins - 'speak or act falsely or evasively with intent to deceive'. In other words, lie, tell a porky, be economical with the truth or, and this word is simply delightful, tergiversate.

But I find that Oxford states that the most frequently used current sense of 'prevaricate' is not to lie but to 'behave evasively or indecisively so as to delay action' and it gives procrastinate as a synonym.

Now it's plain how the two would come together. If you are telling lies or framing the truth in such a way as to slow things down or delay decision-making, then your prevarication (that's the lying bit) would also be a form of procrastination.

Procrastination - the thief of time

But the procrastination unfortunately more familiar to me takes the form of doing the filing, tidying my desk, taking my turn to tidy the staff kitchen (and don't get me started on the ongoing 'improper stacking of the dishwasher' saga); anything, that is, except addressing the job at hand. And there are no falsehoods involved.

It is confusing and the possibilities of real miscommunication between people who hold to differing meanings could be huge.

So I'm abandoning both prevarication and procrastination and hoping to give 'tergiversate' the popularity it deserves. First, because it means to be evasive or to equivocate, which is always fun, and second, because even using 'tergiversate' is an act both of prevarication and procrastination, since it's so obscure no-one will know what I mean and they'll have to waste much time finding out.

Do you have a favourite obscure word?


31 Responses to

Procrastination - thief of time

Catacol4 said:
January 11, 2013 at 3:04 AM

I ran across this blog while double checking the spelling of "kalooping". It must be a word of the northeast as my family has always had it in their vocabulary.