Jump to content

Terminological inexactitude

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Terminological inexactitude is a phrase introduced in 1906 by British politician Winston Churchill. It is used as a euphemism or circumlocution meaning a lie, an untruth, or a substantially correct but technically inaccurate statement.

Churchill first used the phrase following the 1906 election. Speaking in the House of Commons on 22 February 1906 as Under-Secretary of the Colonial Office, he had occasion to repeat what he had said during the campaign. When asked that day whether the Government was condoning slavery of Chinese labourers in the Transvaal, Churchill replied:[1]

The conditions of the Transvaal ordinance ... cannot in the opinion of His Majesty's Government be classified as slavery; at least, that word in its full sense could not be applied without a risk of terminological inexactitude.[1][2]

It has been used as a euphemism for a lie in the House of Commons, as to accuse another member of lying would be considered unparliamentary.

In more recent times, the term was used by Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg to the Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn over an accusation that Rees-Mogg's company had moved a hedge fund into the Eurozone despite his being in favour of Brexit.[3][4][5]

See also



  1. ^ a b Safire, William (2008). Safire's Political Dictionary (5th ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 474. ISBN 9780195340617.
  2. ^ The Outlook, Volume 17 retrieved 28 January 2012
  3. ^ "Jacob Rees-Mogg accuses Jeremy Corbyn of 'terminological inexactitude' for Brexit jibe". Sky News. Retrieved 13 September 2018.
  4. ^ "Rees-Mogg on 'terminological inexactitude'". BBC News. Retrieved 13 September 2018.
  5. ^ Smith, Mikey (27 June 2018). "Jacob Rees-Mogg accused Jeremy Corbyn of 'peddling false news' – here's why". mirror. Retrieved 13 September 2018.

Further reading