Printable Version
Pronunciation: troth Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A solemn pledge, a solemn covenant based on good faith, a betrothal. 2. Your word of honor, the personal integrity upon which your word of honor is based.

Notes: A trothful person is one who is trustworthy, someone as good as his or her word, not at all the same as a truthful person, though both traits are admirable. Avoid trothless people; they will disappoint you. The meaning of the verb from this Good Word, betroth, has narrowed to refer to a promise to give in marriage only, to agree to an engagement, as to be betrothed to a man of troth.

In Play: You can pledge a troth, but troth is also the integrity that guarantees that pledge: "If Tess Tosterone said she would throw you out the window if you bothered her again, I would believe her; her word is her troth." If you would prefer not to pledge your troth, you may plight it: "I will plight you my troth, Leland, and I will be a good wife to you if your work keeps you away from the house for substantial periods."

Word History: Today's Good Word comes from Old English treowth "truth", as does truth itself. It originates in the PIE root dreu- "to be firm, solid, steadfast". That quality has been interpreted differently in various Indo-European languages. In Serbian is appears as drevo "tree, wood", not far from where it landed in Greek: drus "oak" and dendron "tree". In Latin we see it in durus "hard", borrowed by English for durable. Finally, druid was borrowed from Latin druides "druids", which comes from a Celtic compound dreu-wid- "strong, steadfast seer", referring to Celtic priests. It is made up of dreu- plus wid- "to see", the root which led through Latin to English video and vision.

Dr. Goodword,

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