accurate (adj.)

1610s, “done with care,” from Latin accuratus “prepared with care, exact, elaborate,” past participle of accurare “take care of,” from ad “to” (see ad-) + curare “take care of” (see cure (n.1)). The notion of doing something carefully led to that of being precise (1650s). A stronger word than correct (adj.), weaker than exact (adj.). Related: Accurately; accurateness.

authentic (adj.)

mid-14c., “authoritative, duly authorized” (a sense now obsolete), from Old French autentique “authentic; canonical” (13c., Modern French authentique) and directly from Medieval Latin authenticus, from Greek authentikos “original, genuine, principal,” from authentes “one acting on one’s own authority,” from autos “self” (see auto-) + hentes “doer, being,” from PIE root *sene- (2) “to accomplish, achieve.” Sense of “real, entitled to acceptance as factual” is first recorded mid-14c.

Traditionally in modern use, authentic implies that the contents of the thing in question correspond to the facts and are not fictitious (hence “trustworthy, reliable”); while genuine implies that the reputed author is the real one and that we have it as it left the author’s hand (hence “unadulterated”); but this is not always maintained: “The distinction which the 18th c. apologists attempted to establish between genuine and authentic … does not agree well with the etymology of the latter word, and is not now recognized” [OED].

bona fide (adv.)

1540s, “genuinely, with sincerity,” Latin, literally “in or with good faith,” ablative of bona fides “good faith” (see faith). Originally in English an adverb, later (18c.) also an adjective, “acting or done in good faith.” The opposite is mala fide.

credible (adj.)

“believable,” late 14c., from Latin credibilis “worthy to be believed,” from credere “to believe” (see credo). Related: Credibly.

credibility (n.)

1590s, from Medieval Latin credibilitas, from Latin credibilis (see credible). Credibility gap is 1966, American English, in reference to official statements about the Vietnam War.

de facto

Latin, literally “in fact, in reality,” thus, “existing, but not necessarily legally ordained;” from facto, ablative of factum “deed, act” (see fact).

exact (adj.)

 “precise, rigorous, accurate,” 1530s, from Latin exactus “precise, accurate, highly finished,” past-participle adjective from exigere “demand, require, enforce,” literally “to drive or force out,” also “to finish, measure,” from ex “out” (see ex-) + agere “to set in motion, drive, drive forward; to do, perform” (from PIE root *ag- “to drive, draw out or forth, move”)

exact (v.)

mid-15c., from Latin exactus, past participle of exigere “require, enforce, demand, collect (money);” see exact (adj.). Older in English than the adjective and retaining the literal sense of the Latin source. Related: Exacted; exacting

fact (n.)

1530s, “action, anything done,” especially “evil deed,” from Latin factum “an event, occurrence, deed, achievement,” in Medieval Latin also “state, condition, circumstance,” literally “thing done” (source also of Old French fait, Spanish hecho, Italian fatto), noun use of neuter of factus, past participle of facere “to do” (from PIE root *dhe- “to set, put”). Main modern sense of “thing known to be true” is from 1630s, from notion of “something that has actually occurred.”

Compare feat, which is an earlier adoption of the same word via French. Facts “real state of things (as distinguished from a statement of belief)” is from 1630s. In fact “in reality” is from 1707. Facts of life “harsh realities” is from 1854; euphemistic sense of “human sexual functions” first recorded 1913. Alliterative pairing of facts and figures is from 1727.

Facts and Figures are the most stubborn Evidences; they neither yield to the most persuasive Eloquence, nor bend to the most imperious Authority. [Abel Boyer, “The Political State of Great Britain,” 1727]

ipso facto

Latin adverbial phrase, literally “by that very fact, by the fact itself,” from neuter ablative of ipse “he, himself, self” + ablative of factum “fact” (see fact).

troth (n.)

“truth, verity,” late 12c., from a phonetic variant of Old English treowð “faithfulness, veracity, truth;” see truth, which is a doublet of this word. Restricted to Midlands and Northern England dialect after 16c., and to certain archaic phrases (such as plight one’s troth). Also see betroth.

betroth (v.)

c. 1300, betrouthen, “to promise to marry (a woman),” from be-, here probably with a sense of “thoroughly,” + Middle English treowðe “truth,” from Old English treowðe “truth, a pledge” (see truth). From 1560s as “contract to give (a woman) in marriage to another, affiance.” Related: Betrothed; betrothing.

 betrothed (adj.)

1530s, past-participle adjective from betroth (v.). As a noun, in use by 1580s.

true (adj.)

Old English triewe (West Saxon), treowe (Mercian) “faithful, trustworthy, honest, steady in adhering to promises, friends, etc.,” from Proto-Germanic *treuwaz “having or characterized by good faith” (source also of Old Frisian triuwi, Dutch getrouw, Old High German gatriuwu, German treu, Old Norse tryggr, Danish tryg, Gothic triggws “faithful, trusty”), from PIE *drew-o-, a suffixed form of the root *deru- “be firm, solid, steadfast.”

Sense of “consistent with fact” first recorded c. 1200; that of “real, genuine, not counterfeit” is from late 14c.; that of “conformable to a certain standard” (as true north) is from c. 1550. Of artifacts, “accurately fitted or shaped” it is recorded from late 15c. True-love (n.) is Old English treowlufu. True-born (adj.) first attested 1590s. True-false (adj.) as a type of test question is recorded from 1923. To come true (of dreams, etc.) is from 1819.

true (v.)

“make true in position, form, or adjustment,” 1841, from true (adj.) in the sense “agreeing with a certain standard.” Related: Trued; truing.

 truism (n.)

“Self-evident truth,” 1708, from true (adj.) + -ism; first attested in Swift.

truth (n.)

Old English triewð (West Saxon), treowð (Mercian) “faith, faithfulness, fidelity, loyalty; veracity, quality of being true; pledge, covenant,” from Germanic abstract noun *treuwitho, from Proto-Germanic treuwaz “having or characterized by good faith,” from PIE *drew-o-, a suffixed form of the root *deru- “be firm, solid, steadfast.” With Germanic abstract noun suffix *-itho (see -th (2)).

Sense of “something that is true” is first recorded mid-14c. Meaning “accuracy, correctness” is from 1560s. English and most other IE languages do not have a primary verb for for “speak the truth,” as a contrast to lie (v.). Truth squad in U.S. political sense first attested in the 1952 U.S. presidential election campaign.

Let [Truth] and Falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse, in a free and open encounter. [Milton, “Areopagitica,” 1644]

honest (adj.)

c. 1300, “respectable, decent, of neat appearance,” also “free from fraud,” from Old French oneste, honeste “virtuous, honorable; decent, respectable” (12c.; Modern French honnête), from Latin honestus “honorable, respected, regarded with honor,” figuratively “deserving honor, honorable, respectable,” from honos (see honor (n.)) + suffix -tus. Main modern sense of “dealing fairly, truthful, free from deceit” is c. 1400, as is sense of “virtuous, having the virtue of chastity” (of women). Phrase to make an honest woman of “marry (a woman) after seduction” is from 1620s.


Egyptian goddess, literally (in Egyptian) “truth.”


to be continued …