- The action of avoiding, dodging, or otherwise skirting around something
- A deflecting or distracting statement meant to change the subject, create an excuse, or in some way avoid having to answer an objectionable question or challenge
Evasion is a noun that is most often used to describe the avoidance of an issue, person, object, or situation. While the word commonly implies that the object of the evasion is something offensive or undesirable, it does not do so exclusively; theoretically, evasion is inherently neutral, taking on the connotation of the context. The use of evasion can also lend a sense of safety or relieve, as it is implied that whatever was avoided would have otherwise had to have been faced or suffered through.
Evasion can come about by a number of means, including a deft physical dodge (as in ducking a punch aimed at your head), clever artifice (such as pretending you have drowned before escaping down the Mississippi on a homemade raft, ala Huck Finn), or even dumb luck (such as obliviously strolling offstage the second before a falling sandbag lands where you were standing).
A secondary usage of evasion is a bit more specific, describing a verbal statement that is used to avoid an undesirable topic. This can be an outright lie, an excuse, or even a wild, desperate distraction - for example, yelling "Fire!" when asked about suspicious looking items in your closet.
Example: A stereotypical evasion used by young students is the old excuse, "My dog ate my homework!
Example: Driving away from a parking-lot fender bender may be a good method of evasion, but how does it affect your karma?
Evade (Evaded, Evading) is the root verb from which evasion is derived. Evade means to avoid, dodge, or otherwise elude.
Example: With her power of invisibility, it was easy for the super villain to evade the cops.
Example: Evading taxes is a recipe for disaster down the line.
Evasion is thought to have been in use since the early fifteenth century. Its earliest linguistic ancestor is believed to be the Latin verb evadere, which means "to escape." This led to the formation in Late Latin of the noun evasionem ("a going out"). That term was in turn adapted in Middle French as évasion, which would eventually be translated into English as the familiar word evasion. It seems there really is no way to evade one's roots!
From To Kill a Mockingbird:
"When a child asks you something, answer him, for goodness' sake. But don't make a production of it. Children are children, but they can spot an evasion quicker than adults, and evasion simply muddles 'em."
Here, Harper Lee is pointing out that children are often more astute than they appear. They can often tell when an adult is trying to avoid answering a question, which might confuse them even further.
- To skip out on any occasion,
simply use your best evasion!
Bring out the linguist in you! What is your own interpretation of evasion. Did you use evasion in a game? Provide an example sentence or a literary quote.