• veracity •
vê-rę-sê-ti • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun, mass (no plural)
Meaning: 1. Truthfulness, trustworthiness. 2. Precise accuracy, factuality, believability.
Notes: Veracity, like truthfulness, means something sligthly different from truth; it refers to the quality of being true or truthful. We exhibit veracity when we speak the truth. It does not mean truthiness, a word introduced by Stephen Colbert in 2007 that became Merriam-Webster's 'Word of the Year'. Truthiness is the quality of appearing to be truthful. Veracity is the noun from veracious "truthful", not to be confused with voracious.
In Play: Veracity began its life referring to the quality of being truthful: "Given Lyle's pronounced British accent, no one impugned the veracity of his claim that he had received a doctorate from Oxford University." Today its meaning has slipped slightly to include accuracy: "Marine Sergeant Alf Weederzehn was found guilty of being rotten to the Corps despite questions about the veracity of the evidence brought against him."
Word History: Today's Good Word came to English the usual way: from the French lexicon. French véracité descended from Latin veracitas "truthfulness", a word based on verax (verac-s) "truthful". Verax came from verus "true", the same Proto-Indo-European root that gave rise to vera "belief, faith" in Russian and other Slavic languages. We also find it in Vera, a wide-spread female name among European languages. In Dutch today it is waar "true" and in German, wahr "true". In English the original meaning skidded slightly to that of very. (I would be lacking in veracity were I not to credit Joyce Rhode for suggesting today's Good Word. Larry Brady introduced me to Alf Weederzehn.)