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This question already has an answer here:

I'm looking for a single word synonym of evasion, fudging or dodging the question that does not imply deceit in the answer (apart from possible awareness of the respondent that they are not actually answering the question, and perhaps an intent to divert the questioner to other topics).

Answers could be verbose or blunt non-sequiturs.

This is similar but not identical to "What do you call a response which does not address the question?" There answers have other connotations, such as a word or phrase for an inappropriate response (such as a "non sequitur"). This is a new question, which differs particularly in that I'm looking for a word that does not imply an intention to deceive.

marked as duplicate by Tushar Raj, Kristina Lopez, ermanen single-word-requests Jun 13 '15 at 0:32

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • Can you be more specific about the situation? Maybe include an example? – Catija Jun 12 '15 at 6:38
  • An answer that fails to address the question. It could be a student in an exam (my case) or the politician's response to a journalist's question that they would rather avoid. – Spookpadda Jun 12 '15 at 6:43
  • Q: Why are you home late? A: I thought I would cook supper tonight dear. – Spookpadda Jun 12 '15 at 6:44
  • Distracting? that attracts (the attention) away from its original focus. – user66974 Jun 12 '15 at 6:46
  • 3
    An "intent to divert to other topics" is deceitful. – Brian Hitchcock Jun 12 '15 at 7:36
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Prevaricate

: to avoid telling the truth by not directly answering a question - Merriam Webster

Hence the noun: prevarication.

or

Equivocate

: to use unclear language especially to deceive or mislead someone. -Merriam Webster

thus: equivocation

  • "It's no use prevaricating around the bush, Grommit" – Spookpadda Jun 12 '15 at 7:12
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One could say he sidestepped the question. That does not seem to have nearly as negative a connotation as prevaricating, obfuscating, dissembling, or evading.

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Suppose you have spent the whole morning preparing a meal for your girlfriend. When you are sitting at the table, you ask her whether she thinks it is good, but when she tries it, she discovers that it tastes terribly. Maybe she doesn't want to lie, but she doesn't want to utterly crush you either, so she could say "well, it is something different..." while going poker-faced. If you want to convey something like that, perhaps you can say:

her answer was noncommittal

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Is "to elude a question" what you are looking for?

  • (transitive) To evade, or escape from someone or something, especially by using cunning or skill.
  • (transitive) To shake off a pursuer; to give someone the slip.
  • (transitive) To escape understanding of; to be incomprehensible to.

"To elude a question" will have the meaning of avoid to answer it.


This post on wordreference ask about "evade or elude a question".

An answer is

He asked me about my private life. So I gave him an evasive answer.

And

He evaded the question

So, I think that may serve your intent as well as "to evade a question"

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I rather like parry which Merriam-Webster defines as -

: to avoid giving a direct answer to (a question) by being skillful or clever

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Perhaps "Obfuscate" works here. From the Oxford English dictionary (OED):

To render something unclear, obscure, or confused; to use obscure or impenetrable language.

The element of deliberate evasiveness is given in an OED example:

He, along with his four companions, had lied and blocked and obfuscated in their statements to the court.

  • This answer has been edited to address comments. Please explain downvotes! – Spookpadda Jul 13 '18 at 15:00

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