• mendacity •
men-dæs-ê-tee • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. Untruthfulness, the tendency or habit of lying, deceiving, misrepresenting the truth. 2. A lie or falsehood.
Notes: Today's Good Word comes with an adjective, mendacious "untruthful, lying" and an adverb, mendaciously. It may also be combined with the second element of another Good Word, stultiloquent "speaking stupidly", creating mendaciloquent, meaning "speaking with a forked tongue".
In Play: Mendacity covers all forms of falsehood: "Belle O'Donnaugh, the grand pooh-bah of the punditocracy, made her reputation by exposing political mendacity." No matter where the falsehood occurs: "The press, which is supposed to expose mendacity truthfully, is all too often caught reporting mendaciously itself."
Word History: Today's Good Word was taken from the French reworking of Latin mendacitas "mendacity", a word derived from mendax (mendac-s) "lying, deceitful". This word came from an ancestor of mendum "fault, defect", whose root we see in amend, which became simply mend in English, and mendicant "beggar". The only relative of this word I could find outside Latin is Sanskrit minda "physical defect". So it seems to be an Indo-European word that did not spread far over the course of history. (I can say without mendacity that we are deeply grateful to Barbara Kelly for bringing today's word to our attention.)
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