One of the more frequently misused words in the English language is “prevaricate”. Time and again it’s confused with “procrastinate”.
To procrastinate is to keep putting off something that requires urgent action. To prevaricate is to behave or speak evasively; to avoid stating the truth.
I suspect that when John Key accused Helen Clark yesterday of prevaricating over Winston Peters, he probably meant she was procrastinating. She hasn’t really been evasive, but she can certainly be accused of playing for time.
Peters, on the other hand, provides a perfect example of prevarication. The word describes his behaviour so accurately that it could have been invented for him