We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.
Philosophy

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

What is Truthiness?

Mary McMahon
By
Updated: May 23, 2024

Truthiness is a word which was popularized and redefined by comedian Stephen Colbert on The Colbert Show in 2005. Under Colbert's definition, truthiness refers to the things one knows to be true, regardless of pesky information like facts and analysis which might provide contradictory information. Truthiness, in other words, is something felt with the gut. The word quickly caught on, with a number of media outlets adding it to their reports, and in 2006, it was named Word of the Year by both the American Dialect Society and Merriam-Websters Dictionary.

While uses of the word date back to the early 1800s, Colbert's definition has become much more widely known, and in all probability, he came up with the word without realizing that it already existed. Reports indicate that Colbert came up with “truthiness” shortly before the episode it aired in, wanting to come up with a particularly ludicrous word for the segment of the show known as The Wørd.

In an interview in which he was asked about truthiness, Colbert explained that he had intended to use the word as a criticism of the constant appeals to emotion used by many American politicians. He also pointed out that facts seemed to matter less and less in the United States, citing this as a disturbing trend. In the segment where the word was introduced, he said that “...we are divided between those who think with their head, and those who know with their heart.”

The Colbert Report may be a satirical show, but its commentary on American culture and politics is often very astute. While truthiness originally emerged as a quick soundbite for a segment on the show, the word quickly took on a life of its own. “Truthiness” has even created word wars, and a memorable standoff between Colbert and the Associated Press, which used the word in a report without crediting Colbert.

Thanks to the widespread popularization of the word, truthiness pops up in all sorts of places, including entirely legitimate articles and commentaries. Some of the usages of its word have deviated from its original meaning, although they capture the spirit of satire and criticism which “truthiness” was meant to imply. Some Colbert fans point out that truthiness is a serious threat in the United States, citing things like the invasion of Iraq on spurious grounds as the consequences of truthiness taken to extreme levels.

A closely related word is “Wikiality,” a portmanteau of “Wikipedia” and “reality,” which is described as a form of truthiness by consensus.

Language & Humanities is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a Language & Humanities researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon20708 — On Nov 05, 2008

there have been great changes in "the meanings" of all things, words, clothing, ideas and social intercourse.....look at all the sentences that seem true, and question each one.....

By anon20695 — On Nov 05, 2008

A mistake is not a lie. A mistake is not a lie. A mistake is not a lie. No matter how many times a mistake is called a lie-it is still not a lie. A lie is saying or writing something that the speaker and the writer knows is not true when he or she speaks or writes it. Those who call a mistake a lie are the liars. Donald W. Bales

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
Share
Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.