Comedy Central

Old news, but fun to remember where the Colbert Report started.

"Truthiness." Stephen Colbert of Comedy Central's Colbert Report popularized the word "truthiness," and it has been selected by the American Dialect Society as the "2005 Word of the Year."

But all this begs the question: What does "truthiness" mean? And who or what is the American Dialect Society?

The truth hurts...

Truthiness Defined

Believe it or not, according to the Oxford dictionary (cited in Wikipedia), "truthiness" is a variation of the archaic word "truthy." While Stephen Colbert may not have invented the word, he certainly has popularized it. Besides being voted 2005 Word of the Year (CNN story), it is quickly becoming part of the American vernacular. Truthiness defined:

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

To illustrate the idea, Colbert says, "I don't trust books. They're all fact, no heart." Truthiness is about what you feel to be true in your heart, never mind the pesky facts; they just get in the way.

Who is the American Dialect Society?

From their press release (pdf):

Founded in 1889, the American Dialect Society is dedicated to the study of the English language in North America, and of other languages, or dialects of other languages, influencing it or influenced by it. ADS members are linguists, lexicographers, etymologists, historians, grammarians, academics, editors, writers, and independent scholars in the fields of English, foreign languages, and other disciplines. The society also publishes the quarterly journal American Speech.

The American Dialect Society (ADS) began selecting "Words of the Year" in 1990. The word in 1990:

bushlips - insincere political rhetoric.

We've come a long way.

Some runner's up for the 2005 Word of the Year include:

Heck of a job - catch phrase coined by President Bush.
brown-out - the poor handling of an emergency.

Most Creative Word

I was disappointed I hadn't heard of this one before. Where have I been?

whale tail - the appearance of thong or g-string underwear above the waistband of pants, shorts, or a skirt. Also known as a longhorn.

External Links

I Am America (And So Can You!) - by Stephen Colbert
The Best Of The Colbert Report - Starring Stephen Colbert

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