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Scenario: A gang from the west of the USA wants to kill gang members from the east of the USA. The gang from the west meet a gang member from the east and ask:

'Where are you from?'

The gang member from the east replies:

'From the west.'

But he intends to mean 'the western world' so he said something intending a different meaning than that of the meaning in the minds of those he was addressing, thus fooling them, and saving himself.

Is there a term for this type of linguistic/semantic strategy?

Note: no offense to people from the USA

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1 Answer

up vote 8 down vote accepted

When an answer can be interpreted different ways, especially with intent to deceive, it's an equivocal answer, and the act of answering this way is equivocation.

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Is there a single term which is used only for this type of statement which is intended to deceive? –  nicholas ainsworth Mar 30 '11 at 9:07
    
Yes, it's equivocation. Or you might say prevarication. Either works. –  Ed Guiness Mar 30 '11 at 9:07
    
Great - thanks for that. –  nicholas ainsworth Mar 30 '11 at 9:35
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