Printable Version
Pronunciation: truth Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. In accord with reality, in conformity with facts. 2. An axiomatic principle, a fact that has been or can be proven. 3. A religious principle or doctrine, an article of true religious belief. 4. Fidelity to an original or standard.

Notes: This word is a true English lexical oddity: a word whose pronunciation is true to its spelling. Its adjectives include truthful, truthlike, and truthy. The latter two mean "appearing truthful without actually being so". Its verb, truthify, is the antonym of falsify, meaning "to prove something to be true".

In Play: Perhaps the most famous use of truth is in the oath sworn to by a witness taking the stand in a trial: "Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?" Someone once said, "The first victim of war is truth". Truth has had a long, hard life: "Truth, sir, is a cow which will yield [some] people with no more milk, and so they are gone to milk the bull." —Samuel Johnson, The Life of Samuel Johnson, 1763, Vol I, p. 126)

Word History: Today's Good Word is a relative of tree, believe it or not. It descended via English's Old Germanic ancestors from PIE drew-/drow- "tree". Sanskrit dru "tree, wood", Greek drus "oak tree", Serbian drvo "tree" and drva "wood", Russian derevo "tree, wood", and Albanian dru "tree, wood"—all descended from the same PIE word. Latin durus "hard, tough" may well be a variant. Welsh and Breton derw, and Irish and Scottish Gaelic darach "oak" are what the Celtic languages made of it. In Old English truth was triewð, the noun from Proto-Germanic treuwaz "strong, reliable". English seems to be the only Germanic language that preserved the Proto-Germanic form and its connection between "hardness" and "trueness". (Now, let's double thank Jeremy Busch, a member of the GW editorial board who suggested today's very important Good Word—and that's the truth!)

Dr. Goodword,

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