weasel word

weasel word (plural weasel words)

  1. (pejorative) A word used to qualify a statement so as to make it potentially misleading.
    Synonyms: hedge
    Hypernyms: 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.
  • German: schwammiger Begriff

weasel word (weasel words, present participle weasel wording; past and past participle weasel worded)

  1. To use weasel words.

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