Printable Version
Pronunciation: men-day-shês Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Completely untrue or untruthful by nature, characteristically false or dishonest.

Notes: Mendacious refers to a general characteristic rather than a momentary state. A person can be dishonest about a single event without being characteristically dishonest. Mendacity is a persistent trait of a person or a fact. The adverb is mendaciously and the noun, mendacity [men-d-s-tee]. If mendacious doesn't attract enough attention, try mendaciloquent instead. This word has the same meaning as mendacious but with the implication of an attractively elaborate lie.

In Play: Don't waste today's Good Word on friends who occasionally tell a fib; save it for those who live by fabrication: "The salesman from whom Carmen Ghia bought her car was as mendacious as a campaigning politician." This word may also be used to refer to the story fabricated: "I hope you don't believe all those mendacious tales Hillbourne tells about his romantic affair with the mother of the Blues Brothers, Bertha Dee."

Word History: Today's Good Word comes from Latin mendax (mendac-s) "mendacious", based on the noun mendum "blemish, error". Where the root of this word came from is something of a mystery. We do know that it is also found in Latin emendare "correct, amend" from ex "out of" + mendum. This word went on to become Old French amender, borrowed by English as amend. The same root also underlies Latin mendican(t)s "begging, beggar", the present participle of mendicare "to beg", from mendicus "needy, beggar". (We would have to be passively mendacious to hide our debt to Michael Oberndorf for suggesting today's Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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