Photo courtesy of McKenna Teigland

Word of the Week

Verisimilitude – is that true?

Okay, so I have a confession to make: I have a favorite word, and that word is verisimilitude.

Hailing from the Latin term, verus, meaning “truth,” verisimilitude does not only sound pretty, but it is more mature than just a simple “truth.” Defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “the appearance of being true or real,” it is the key addition of “appearance” which adds an important depth to the word. Now, no, I am not trying to add an angst-ridden SAT word to your vocabulary, just so I can say “Don’t believe anything. The world is a verisimilitudinous place,” and you will understand me. What I am trying to say, is that this word is an elegant handful of syllables that can essentially replace the boring, monosyllabic word, “lies.”

But why is this important? What would be the significance in replacing one word with another? In order to answer this, one has to look no further than potential. If a speech were to be said to be full of lies, this would be drastically different from saying that the speech was instead a piece of auditory verisimilitude. Simply put, “lies” shuts down a discussion; “verisimilitude” invites one. People are ready to throw anything away labeled to be lies, but with the term “verisimilitude,” one pauses and entertains the claim. That latter word encourages critical thinking and opinion formulation, whereas the former promotes negligence and hot-headed decisions.

In any event, there is some food for thought for this week. Next time someone presents you with new information, I hope that rather thinking it is false, you instead wonder if it is it true.

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