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verisimilitude

Printable Version Pronunciation: ve-rê-sê-mi-lê-tyud Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass (no plural)

Meaning: 1. The quality of seeming to be true, approaching truth. 2. The quality of seeming to be real, realistic.

Notes: Today's Good Word is the noun from the adjective verisimilar, which means "approaching truth or reality". However, this noun has its own adjective with a similar meaning: verisimilitudinous. It comes in handy when you have little to say and want every word to take up as much space or time as possible.

In Play: The meaning of today's word is fuzzy: it can refer to truthfulness or only the appearance of truthfulness. Let me show you what I mean: "I couldn't believe the verisimilitude of the movie to the events it portrayed." No deception is implied but now listen to this: "The tear dripping from her eye added materially to the verisimilitude of Anna Felaxi's show of grief at the funeral." In this case we are led to believe that Anna might be faking it, so be careful how you use today's Good Word.

Word History: Today's Good Word comprises two roots we are already familiar with, verus "true" and similis "similar". Verus shares a source with Old English waer "faith, pledge", which remains only in very and warlock currently. The latter word was originally waer "pledge" + loga "liar" and meant "pledge breaker". The name Vera comes from the same source and, by the way, "faith" in Russian is vera, vira in Czech, and wiara in Polish—all from the same root. See simular for the history of similis. (This expression of gratitude to Ralph B. Mowery for suggesting today's Good Word has a 100% verisimilitude to the real thing.)

Dr. Goodword, alphaDictionary.com

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