What do you call someone intentionally gives a completely true answer that answers a question but does not provide the information the asker is looking for?

For example, person a moves to a new school in Nevada, where people ask him where he is from. a answers that she is from Junction City, but fails to mention that it is in Kansas. a knows that they don't know where that is, but assume it is local. What is the name for someone like a?


7 Answers 7


In the case of your example, the guy seems to be elusive, in the sense that he essentially is trying to avoid the answer. But I get that has not much to do with a "bare minimum answer". Maybe, elusively concise. Or even reticent.


You can call them evasive perhaps, or noncommittal.


  1. Inclined or intended to evade: took evasive action.
  2. Intentionally vague or ambiguous; equivocal: an evasive statement.


Refusing commitment to a particular opinion or course of action; not revealing what one feels or thinks: "His face was the color of a freshly baked pork pie and as noncommittal"

  • evasive seems very good.
    – Pam
    Sep 15, 2013 at 20:44
  • 'Evasive' does not necessarily indicate a deliberate attempt to mislead - only one to give a partial answer. 'Disingenuous' indicates the giving of a not-untrue answer that is designed to lead to a false conclusion. Sep 15, 2013 at 23:34

I like evasive best, and dodging the question is also good. There's another one you may want to consider:


This one is commonly used in legal situations when describing a certain kind of witness.

I'm not including an official definition because the ones I found were defined in terms of cooperative, which was defined in terms of cooperate, and after all these steps, the actual meaning of uncooperative was lost. Here's my explanation: A cooperative person will understand what the questioner wants to know and will comply and supply the desired information, without any resentment or games.

You can also say that this person gives you non-answers.


I would say this is person is


"a knows that they don't know where that is, but [that they will] assume it is local. "

So they are deliberately misleading, in which case there is some intent.

The noun is



How about secretive or cryptic?


secretive: disposed to secrecy : not open or outgoing in speech, activity, or purposes

cryptic: difficult to understand : having or seeming to have a hidden meaning

A person who intentionally gives a completely true answer that answers a question but does not provide the information the asker is looking for is being secretive or cryptic.


Another word which works (apart from evasive) is unforthcoming.


unforthcoming ADJECTIVE

1 (of a person) not willing to divulge information:
‘the sergeant seemed unforthcoming, so he enquired at the gate’

‘They were similarly unforthcoming when asked for specifics about the number of jobs that the company plans to cut.’

‘He is friendly but mostly unforthcoming when the conversation comes around to his marketing tricks and strategies.’


My preferred term for this is being economical with the truth, i.e. giving "the truth" and "nothing but the truth"... but not "the whole truth". Wikipedia link.

This is based on the definition for economical being:

  1. using the minimum required

which leads to the whole phrase meaning (from the Wikipedia link):

to avoid revealing too much of the truth

Unfortunately, the phrase "economical with the truth" can be (Wikipedia again):

used ironically to mean outright lying

and in my experience this is the far more common usage.

So, although I like the phrase, and would use it to mean "someone giving some truth, but not the whole truth", many people would interpret it to mean outright lying. In fact, reading further down the Wikipedia page it would appear there was a libel case in which someone was accused of libel for saying someone lied, when the actual words used were "economical with the truth", and an expert witness "felt that lying had become the default meaning".

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