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v. tem·po·rized, tem·po·riz·ing, tem·po·riz·es
1. To act or speak in order to gain time, avoid an argument, or postpone a decision: "Colonial officials ... ordered to enforce unpopular enactments, tended to temporize, to find excuses for evasion" (J.H. Parry).
2. To act to suit current circumstances or necessities: "When an evil has sprung up within a state, the more certain remedy by far is to temporize with it" (Brian Moore).
To say or utter in temporizing.

[French temporiser, from Old French, from Medieval Latin temporizāre, to pass one's time, from Latin tempus, tempor-, time.]

tem′po·ri·za′tion (-pər-ĭ-zā′shən) n.
tem′po·riz′er n.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


(ˈtɛmpəˌraɪzɪŋ) or


1. an agreement for a limited period of time
2. a delay to gain advantage
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014



(See also ABEYANCE.)

filibuster The use of irregular or obstructive tactics, such as long speeches or trivial objections, by a minority legislator to prevent or hinder the passage or consideration of legislation generally favored by the majority; the use of such tactics to force the passage of unpopular legislation; to waste time for the purpose of obstruction. The filibuster, long a staple of U.S. Congressional politics, derives from the French filibustier ‘pirate’ and the British flibuster ‘rover, traveler.’ These French pirates terrorized the Spanish West Indies in the 17th century. The name filibusters was later applied to illegal bands of Americans and Texans who, in the 1850s, entered Central America to foment revolution. Soon the term was applied to anyone who took part in illegal or irregular warfare or other obstructionist activity against a government. The transition to its current meaning was then but a short jump.

A filibuster was indulged in which lasted … for nine continuous calendar days. (Congressional Record, February 11, 1890)

hold at bay To fend off one’s literal or figurative assailant by taking the offense, thereby bringing about a standstill as both parties are poised and ready to attack. This expression is said to derive from the modern French être aux bois ‘to be at close quarters with the barking dogs.’ Originally a hunting phrase dating from the 16th century, hold or keep at (a) bay refers to a situation in which a hunted animal, unable to flee further, turns to defend itself at close quarters. Figurative use, also dating from the 1500s, is now heard more frequently than the literal.

By riding … keep death as it were at a bay. (Francis Fuller, Medicina Gymnastica, 1711)

play for time To employ dilatory tactics to stave off defeat; to postpone making a decision, to drag out negotiations. This expression probably derives from those sports in which one team monopolizes control in the remaining minutes of a game in order to prevent a last minute turnaround and victory by the opposing team.

stonewall To obstruct or block legislation; to delay or impede an activity. This term was applied to the Civil War General Thomas J. Jackson, in honor of his steadfastness at the Battle of Bull Run. The expression is also a cricket term for an exclusively defensive or delaying strategy. Its meaning was subsequently extended to include stubborn blocking and delaying tactics on a government level.

Obstruction did not merely consist in stonewalling Government business. (Contemporary Review, November, 1916)

As a result of its use in the Watergate hearings, stonewall took on the more specific meaning of the obstruction of or the resistance to government inquiry or investigation, as through vagueness and noncooperation.

Picturesque Expressions: A Thematic Dictionary, 1st Edition. © 1980 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in classic literature ?
When the position is such that neither side will gain by making the first move, it is called temporizing ground.
How can its administration be any thing else than a succession of expedients temporizing, impotent, disgraceful?
No, we shall beat them by merely temporizing. They want food already.
The shortness of his visit, the steadiness of his purpose in leaving them, originated in the same fettered inclination, the same inevitable necessity of temporizing with his mother.
Solon, who seems to have indulged a more temporizing policy, confessed that he had not given to his countrymen the government best suited to their happiness, but most tolerable to their prejudices.
In the matter of love, as in all other affairs, he willingly assented to temporizing and adjusting terms; and a good supper, and an amiable tête-a-tête appeared to him, especially when he was hungry, an excellent interlude between the prologue and the catastrophe of a love adventure.
I dismissed the servant with a message of the temporizing sort.
BUYBAX represents a radical break with the temporizing practices of most present-day American corporations, which still pay lip service to such hoary purposes as making, selling, or improving a product or a service-practices that require them to divert resources to such revenue sinkholes as research and development, production, marketing, employment, and the occasional cultivation of goodwill.
Joel Villanueva referred to his chamber as the bastion of democracy when it was acting more like the stronghold of temporizing.
Maternal and perinatal outcome of temporizing management in 254 consecutive patients with severe preeclampsia remote from term.
Use of magnesium sulfate is based on temporizing outcomes; use of aspirin and bed rest are similar.
This supports open reduction and internal fixation as a viable temporizing measure.