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


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.

  • Is there a single term which is used only for this type of statement which is intended to deceive? 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

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