Equivocation Fallacy Explained, with Examples-CEFR

The fallacy of equivocation happens when a crucial term or phrase is employed in an unclear manner, having one meaning in one section of the argument and a different one in a different section.

With examples, define equivocation fallacy.

Examples: It is appropriate for me to watch "The Real World" since I have the right to do so.


The equivocation fallacy is frequently exploited by politicians, but it is also utilized in the media. Equivocation fallacy is frequently seen to be smart or funny when used in advertisements.

  • For instance, a firm that produces billboards may state: Seeking a sign? That's it!

The term "sign" contains a dual meaning. Although the billboard is indeed a sign, the sentence also alludes to a divine sign. Therefore, you should advertise here since the billboard is a divine sign.

Example of a Macbeth Equivocation:

In fact, Shakespeare frequently used equivocation in his play Macbeth. However, Macbeth's visit to the witches is one of its most well-known applications.

“Be bloody, bold, and resolute; laugh to scorn / The power of man, for none of woman born / Shall harm Macbeth.”

He sounds invulnerable since 'none of woman born' can hurt Macbeth. The witches really refer to women who give birth naturally when they say "none of woman born." Those born through c-section are not included. That is why Macduff isn't "of woman born." Quite a conundrum, Mr. Shakespeare!