Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Equivocation

"Evasion is unworthy of us, and is always the intimate of equivocation." - Honoré de Balzac

"He that will live in this world must be endued with the three rare qualities of dissimulation, equivocation, and mental reservation." - Aphra Behn

"A sudden lie may be sometimes only manslaughter upon truth; but by a carefully constructed equivocation, truth always is with malice a forethought deliberately murdered." - John Morley, 1st Viscount Morely of Blackburn, Lord Morley

"When thou are obliged to speak, be sure to speak the truth; for equivocation is half-way to lying, and lying is the whole way to hell." - William Penn

"The tone of good conversation is brilliant and natural; it is neither tedious nor frivolous; it is instructive without pedantry, gay without tumultuousness, polished without affectation, gallant without insipidity, waggish without equivocation." - Jean-Jacques Rousseau

"Say what you mean to do… and take it for granted that you mean to do right. Never do a wrong thing to make a friend or keep one… you will wrong him and wrong yourself by equivocation of any kind." -

"There is no possible excuse for a guarded lie. Enthusiastic and impulsive people will sometimes falsify thoughtlessly, but equivocation is malice prepense." - Hosea Ballou

"A sudden lie may be sometimes only manslaughter upon truth; but by a carefully constructed equivocation, truth always is with malice a forethought deliberately murdered." -

"I must first clear up an ambiguity in the phrase 'doing evil that good may come'. We cannot ask whether e. g. Caesar's death was a good or bad thing to happen; there are various titles under which it may be called good or bad. One might very well say e. g. that a violent death was a bad thing to happen to a living organism but a good thing to happen to a man who claimed divine worship, and this would again leave it open whether doing Caesar to death was a good or bad thing to do for Brutus and the rest. Now when I speak of 'not doing evil that good may come', what I mean is that certain sorts of act are such bad things to do that they must never be done to secure any good or avoid any evil. For A to kill a man or cut off his arm is not necessarily a bad thing to do, though it is necessarily bad that such a thing should happen to a living organism. Only by a fallacy of equivocation can people argue that if you accept the principle of not doing evil that good may come, then you must be against capital punishment and surgical operations." - Peter Geach, fully Peter Thomas Geach