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 Silly & Invented Words
Truthiness - Word coined by Steven Colbert, the host of the THE  COLBERT REPORT/COM/2005+, a satirical spin-off of Comedy Central's DAILY SHOW/COM/1996+ with Jon Stewart.

Stephen Colbert - Truthiness

Colbert used the word on his debut episode in October 17, 2005, when he defined "truthiness" as truth that wouldn't stand to be held back by facts. The word caught on, and in January, 2006 the American Dialect Society named "truthiness" the word of the year.

truthiness: the quality of stating concepts or facts one wishes or believes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true.

However, Colbert's claimed to the word was declared "untrue" by Michael Adams, professor at North Carolina State University who specializes in lexicology. He revealed that the Oxford Dictionary has a definition for "truthy" dating back to the 1800s. It's defined as "characterized by truth" and includes the derivation "truthiness." He further stated "truthiness" means "truthy, not facty."

Unwilling to listen to their allegation, Colbert stated "The fact that they looked it up in a book just shows that they don't get the idea of truthiness at all. You don't look up truthiness in a book, you look it up in your gut."


Excerpt from October, 17, 2006 show:

And on this show, on this show your voice will be heard... in the form of my voice. 'Cause you're looking at a straight-shooter, America. I tell it like it is. I calls 'em like I sees 'em. I will speak to you in plain simple English.

And that brings us to tonight's word: truthiness.

Now I'm sure some of the Word Police, the wordanistas over at Webster's, are gonna say, "Hey, that's not a word." Well, anybody who knows me knows that I'm no fan of dictionaries or reference books. They're elitist. Constantly telling us what is or isn't true, or what did or didn't happen. Who's Britannica to tell me the Panama Canal was finished in 1914? If I wanna say it happened in 1941, that's my right. I don't trust books. They're all fact, no heart.


Follow-up commentary by Stephen Colbert:

Before we go, I want to say something about the first "Word" from the first ever broadcast of this show. Jimmy, roll the tape.

[We see and hear] "Truthiness. Now I'm sure some of the Word Police, the wordanistas over at Webster's, are gonna say, 'Hey, that's not a word.' "

[Colbert continues] Turns out I underestimated those wordanistas. On Friday the American Dialect Society chose truthiness as the 2005 Word of the Year (applause), beating words like podcast and Katrinagate. We kicked their asses. And I've never been so honored and insulted at the same time.

You see the Associated Press article announcing this prestigious award, written by one Heather Clark, had a glaring omission: me. I'm not mentioned, despite the fact that truthiness is a word I pulled right out of my keister. Instead of coming to me, here's where Ms. Clark got the definition.

Quote: Michael Adams, a professor at North Carolina State University who specializes in lexicology, said "truthiness" means "truthy, not facty."

First of all, I looked him up. He's not a professor, he's a visiting associate professor. And second, it means a lot more than that, Michael. I don't know what you're getting taught over there in English 201 and 324 over at Tompkins Hall, Wolfpack. But it isn't truthiness.

You know what? Bring out the board, bring out the board. [Stagehand brings out "On Notice" board, with entries including "Black hole at center of galaxy," "E Street Band," "grizzly bears," "Bob Woodruff," "the Toronto Raptors," "The British Empire," "business casual," and "Barbara Streisand."]

Visiting associate professor Michael Adams: you, sir, are on notice. OK, somebody's gotta go. E Street Band, this is your lucky day. [Colbert pulls out card for "E Street Band," and replaces it with "Michael Adams."]

OK, there it is. Deal with it.

But the real culprit here is so-called reporter Heather Clark. This is her sleaziest piece of yellow journalism since "New Mexico Poll Watchers See Smooth Election Day." Now I already tore her a new one for that. Heather Clark, you are dead to me.

Let's bring out the board. [Stagehand brings out "Dead To Me" board, with the entries "CNN en Español," "cast of Friends," "owls," "screw-cap wines," "bowtie pasta," "California's 50th district," "New York intellectuals," and "men with beards."]

Get ready, Heather. Get ready, brace yourself. [Colbert adds card for "Heather Clark" to the board.] How does that feel? Does that sting? Now that you're dead to me, you're gonna wish you were never born.

I'm sorry you had to see that, nation. But in the interest of truthiness, it had to be done. Good night.


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