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I thought "equivocate" means to make two concepts seem the same, or to compare them. Turns out "equivocate" just means "use ambiguous language so as to conceal the truth or avoid committing oneself." But it turns out I'm not the only that was confused:

From https://www.cjr.org/language_corner/equivocate-equivalence.php

Stop misusing the word ‘equivocate’

“Trump’s statements last week are provided as just one of the latest examples of this false equivalency that is corrupting the political dialogue of our political system. It might be a risk of committing false equivocation ourselves to say ideologues on both the right and left commit these disingenuous arguments, but there are enough examples that we feel safe to call it a fact.”

“The Republican president’s statements have been widely criticized as equivocating between white nationalists, including Ku Klux Klan members and neo-Nazis, on the one hand and those protesting against them on the other.”

Is there a word that actually means comparing with intent to present as equal? I think the best option I found was "equate".

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    You could see if conflate does what you want.
    – Robusto
    Jun 17, 2021 at 17:55
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    I think analogize might work.
    – RobJarvis
    Jun 17, 2021 at 18:05
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    Compare itself carries this sense: << compare verb [T] (consider similarities) to judge, suggest, or consider that something is similar or of equal quality [bolding mine] to something else: ... ⁕ Still only 25, she has been compared to the greatest dancer of all time. / ⁕ People compared her to Elizabeth Taylor. .... >> [CD] Hence 'incomparable'. I don't think this constitutes a valid 'answer' as no research is shown. Jun 17, 2021 at 18:23
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    Use two words: "falsely equate"—same number of syllables as "equivocate" so your mouth won't get much tireder from saying the phrase instead of the single word.
    – Sven Yargs
    Jun 17, 2021 at 18:31
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    Hi David, why should I edit out my ignorance in the question? Which part exactly do you want me to remove? The whole point of a question is to deignorantificate, no? Also - there are example sentences in the body of the question. Jun 18, 2021 at 19:26

2 Answers 2

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You've already listed the answer: equate

2 : to treat, represent, or regard as equal, equivalent, or comparable (equates disagreement with disloyalty)

Though, there is a less formal vernacular backformation (and possibly influenced by the form of equivocate) which has given rise to equivalate but this is less commonly used than equate by a great degree.

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I would suggest using something other than equate. Merriam Webster suggests using fudge, hedge or other synonyms found on https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/equivocate.

Merriam Webster also has an usage note about this problem https://www.merriam-webster.com/grammar/equivocate-what-it-means-and-what-it-doesnt-mean.

'Equivocate' does not mean 'equate,' and 'equivocation' is not 'equivalence'

To equivocate is to say something in a way that can be understood multiple ways, especially so that people will think you mean one thing when you really mean another. It's choosing and arranging your words carefully so that you're not quite lying but so that your listener winds up deceived or misled.

As far as I understand, equate does not mean the same as equivocate, because the underlying intent is not the same.

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