Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index


The fallacy of equivocation is committed when someone uses the same word in different meanings in an argument, in such a way that the argument would be correct only if the word actually meant the same each time around.

For example, "A feather is light. What is light cannot be dark. So a feather can not be dark," commits this fallacy: The word light is used in the sense of having little weight the first time, but of having a bright colour the second time.

The fallacy of equivocation is often used with words that have a strong emotional content and many meanings. These meanings often coincide within proper context, but the fallacious arguer does a semantic shift, slowly changing the context as he goes in such a way to achieve equivocation by equating distinct meanings of the word.

Equivocation is closely linked with the fallacy of amphiboly, where amphiboly relies on a syntantic shift.