Equivocation

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Elaboration

In a broader sense, equivocation need not be limited to a single word; a phrase or even concept may have different facets or be applied to different instances of the same idea which, although related, are not freely interchangeable. A word used in the same sense may even be referring to a different instances of that sense:

  • Person A: I refuse to continue this argument without a mediator.
  • Person B: No, I won't allow you to just back out of this. You don't have the right.
  • Person A: I don't need your approval; those are my terms, take them or leave them.
  • Person B: So what's to negotiate? You've already dictated your terms.

In this case, Person B is equivocating Person A's usage of "terms" meaning terms under which A is willing to continue the discussion, with terms which might be arrived at in that discussion (presumably with the aid of a mediator). (In the real-world example from which this was excerpted and paraphrased, there was substantial discussion between the last two lines, making it less obvious where the equivocation had taken place.)

Reference

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Notes

This might also be called "Confusion of Terms", though I have not been able to find any references to that phrase clearly used in this way.