Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

If I were to reverse the sentence, "I care about the truth" I would want to say:

I care about the false.

Is that correct? It seems awkward at best:

He speaks the truth! / He speaks the false!

This one truth is important to all / This one false is important to all

share|improve this question
Since (in theory) there is only one truth, but many lies He speaks the false would more conceptually be He speaks falses/a false/in falses obviously substituting false(s) with the word you settle on. –  Matt E. Эллен May 25 '11 at 19:49
@MrHen: @Matt Ellen's point is incisive. You're mostly looking for an antonym for the truth, not truth. So the best candidate must be just lies, since there are invariably many. In the (pathological?) case of one truth, the antonym is [one] lie. –  FumbleFingers May 25 '11 at 20:26
A noun that is etymologically related to "false" is "fallacy" (both from Latin fallere), though it has additional meanings in current usage. –  tcovo May 25 '11 at 20:31
"I do not care about the truth." is the negation of the first sentence, though, not "I care about x". –  JeffSahol May 25 '11 at 20:41
I vote that we invent the word "falth" right now –  Joe Philllips May 26 '11 at 2:59

15 Answers 15

up vote 23 down vote accepted

The true response will depend on the context, I think. Truth as "fact" is best opposed by "falsehood" because these two words apply to whether or not statements correspond to reality. You might also make the argument the "fiction" is usually used in opposition in this same context.

This one falsehood is important to all

This one fiction is important to all

Of course, this is where the argument that there is only one truth and many falsehoods comes in, so you can take your pick of what word to use that means something that is not true. There are many words, because how we classify statements that are untrue depends on context, motivation, and intent (lies, deceptions, untruths, mistakes, misinterpretations, etc). I choose "falsehood" because I feel it is the most neutral term.

On the other hand, the truth as in "verity" is probably best opposed by "falsity" as these two words describe states.

I care about the falsity.

You want the falsity? You can't handle the falsity!

In this case, you are not talking about whether a specific thing is true, or sound, or logical. You are commenting on the concept of a state of reality; truth itself is the thing you care about. Therefore, the opposition is not properly "I care about lies" but rather "I care about the untruth."

So you could use untruth (it is a word after all). I choose falsity because it represents its own state, rather than the "un" existence of truth.

share|improve this answer

You commented how you will use the answer to your question:

I was presenting an opinion that a certain group of people should care about the truth, not about the [word goes here]. They were specifically going out of their way to address someone's incorrect belief system and I wanted to point them back on target. "Our concern is the truth, not falsity."

Given this clarification, I have a new angle for you:

  1. We want truth instead of fantasy.
  2. We want facts, not fantasy. (this one is nicely alliterative)
  3. We live in the real world, not in a fantasy.
  4. We make decisions based on reality, not on delusions.

Here are some synonyms of delusion that could be useful (do I need to attribute the source, thesaurus.com?):

apparition, blunder, casuistry, chicanery, daydream, deception, deceptiveness, dream, eidolon, error, fallacy, false impression, fancy, fantasy, figment, fool's paradise, ghost, hallucination, head trip, ignis fatuus, illusion, lapse, mirage, misapprehension, mistake, optical illusion, oversight, phantasm, phantom, pipe dream, self-deception, shade, speciousness, spuriousness, trickery, trip, vision

share|improve this answer
Fantasy is a pretty solid option; so is replacing truth with a more opposable word. The reality/fantasy comparison would certainly fit in some of the relevant circumstances. But for the context that prompted this question, the topic was more along the lines of logic/illogic or truth/untruth. –  MrHen Jun 8 '11 at 18:18
@MrHen It was worth a shot. :) To me, illogical thought is fantasy, so it would work. –  ErikE Jun 8 '11 at 22:41

I wasn't expecting so many answers to this question and it took me a while to process each of them. I chose to accept the answer I did because I consider it to have most closely resolved the entire issue. My answer here goes through and aggregates the relevant information from across the answers so as to directly address the questions and examples in my original question and help explain why I chose the answer I did.

The first notable problem was question's misidentification of truth as the relevant term. This is admittedly my fault. As it turns out, the truth is more relevant in the first and second examples:

I care about the truth

He speaks the truth!

While antonyms to truth include words such as lie or lies, they don't work in the original context:

I care about the lie

I care about the lies

Each of these mean something drastically different from my original intent. Namely, the concept of the truth is different from that of a truth. Lie parallels with a truth. This does, however, make it applicable for the second and third examples which could be why so many answers focused on this style of antonym:

He speaks lies!

This one lie is important to all

But it again doesn't quite convey what I was looking for. As such, I am unsatisfied with lie as an answer.

Falsehood is much, much closer:

I care about falsehood

He speaks falsehood!

This one falsehood is important to all

Unfortunately, most suggestions of falsehood were paired with lie and it isn't obvious that falsehood also works as an antonym to the truth. I wasn't able to determine if people were thinking of these examples instead:

I care about falsehoods

He speaks falsehoods!

Which again brings us to the problem with using lie. While falsehood would work, I don't think people were realizing why — or, at least, they weren't explaining why.

The major alternative to falsehood was falsity:

I care about falsity

He speaks falsity!

This one falsity is important to all

This is dead on in meaning and is included as a noun under the definition of false. Falseness also happens to be there: "I care about falseness."

All of this heads into a clash between three acceptable terms: Falsehood, falsity and falseness. The last two seem a little outdated or unused and the prevalence of answers suggesting falsehood tilt acceptance toward an answer that includes it.

Unfortunately, the only answers that explicitly note falsehood being usable as "I care about falsehood" were a short answer that only said this. The highest voted answer merely had the word, a link to the dictionary and included lie which I consider an incorrect answer (through no fault of the answerer; it appears that my question was unclear in its goal.)

In my opinion, the answer chosen deserves it because:

  • it mentions both falsehood and falsity
  • it discusses both "truth as fact" and "truth as reality"
  • gives a nod to lies and their synonyms

Of note, one editor pointed out that "the false" is acceptable with regards to the philosophical concept. This again matches perfectly with the desired meaning. I did not accept that answer, however, due to its limited scope and other answers contesting that "the false" is incorrect or ungrammatical.

And, in other news, it turns out the word bullshit works surprisingly well.

share|improve this answer
Could you explain the context that brought up this question? Why do you care about the bulls**t? –  ErikE Jun 6 '11 at 18:16
@Erik: I was presenting an opinion that a certain group of people should care about the truth, not about the [word goes here]. They were specifically going out of their way to address someone's incorrect belief system and I wanted to point them back on target. "Our concern is the truth, not falsity." The direct comparison of truth against falsity was needed for the purposes of rhetoric, style and accuracy. Simply saying "Our concern is the truth, not lies" isn't technically wrong, but I was confident that the English language could do better. And I was right. –  MrHen Jun 6 '11 at 19:05
That really helps understand the question. I think you would have gotten faster and results if you'd posted this to begin with! I think you might even get some additional useful answers with this clarification. I for one will be thinking about it and may update my answer if I come up with anything new. –  ErikE Jun 6 '11 at 19:08
@Erik: Yes. I agree I didn't really explain the intent well in the original question but it started getting so many views and answers I just left it alone figuring that trying to correct it at that point would just cause more confusion. Likewise we me posting this answer here explaining why I accepted the answer I did. –  MrHen Jun 6 '11 at 19:17

One of the best words I could find was


There are several synonyms for "falsehood" "I care about the false" is correct, however it doesn't seem to sound right. Perhaps you are looking for this:

I care about the falsities!

Here are some other suggestions:

I care about the illusory!
I care about dishonesty!
I care about the deception!

In which case, there are several ways of stating it:

He speaks the factitious!

Or another way:

He speaks of the truthless!

This really shorten things:

He prevaricates!

However, this was the only example that was fitting for the last sentence:

This one falsity is important to all

Overall, I would use "falsity" and "falsehood" as a generic for "the false".

share|improve this answer
I don't like falsity at all. It sounds like truthiness. –  ErikE May 26 '11 at 3:11
@Erik: I also thought falsity sounded funny but it appears to be the most accurate term. I am not relishing picking between all of the answers here. :P –  MrHen May 26 '11 at 3:58
@mrHen You wouldn't believe how many white hairs I grew trying to remember that word.;) –  Thursagen May 26 '11 at 4:00
@Erik: It's a perfectly normal word for the concept it describes. "Truthiness", by contrast is a redundant word, like "newbie", or "normalcy". –  Marcin May 26 '11 at 16:15
@Marcin: No, "truthiness" is just wrong, because truth doesn't have multiple degrees. The word is "correctness". I don't see the relationship to "newbie", and "normalcy" is just fine when talking about degree. –  Ben Voigt May 28 '11 at 18:26

"true" and "false" are both adjectives.

"truth" is a noun, so you'd need a noun form of "false". Two options are "falsehood" or "lie"

share|improve this answer

How about fallacy?

share|improve this answer
+1 That's what came into my head upon reading the question. –  rmx May 26 '11 at 11:38
Can you expand on why you would choose fallacy over the other answers that have been given? –  Kit Z. Fox May 26 '11 at 19:23
Fallacy does not entail the entirety of falsehood. It includes part of falsehood, but not all. –  Thursagen May 27 '11 at 5:59
Please note that I am answering the question "“True” is to “false” as “truth” is to… what?" I would say that the word falsehood implies that the fact has been proven wrong or that is being intentionally misrepresented, where a fallacy, in my opinion, is wrong irrespective of the fact that the person knows it is or not. –  Johnny DropTables May 27 '11 at 13:45

"I care about the bullshit."

The rest of this answer is just filler.

share|improve this answer
Surprisingly, bullshit works rather well. +1 –  MrHen May 26 '11 at 16:00
And it sounds better than "falsity." –  Kit Z. Fox May 26 '11 at 19:24
It could work, but it's not the word I would use in all the contexts, especially in formal context. –  kiamlaluno May 29 '11 at 11:45
In the formal context it would be "One cares about the bullshit" –  sanchothefat Jun 2 '11 at 18:29

"Falsehood" does not imply a lie (a deliberate deception). It may be preferred usage to avoid implicit accusation.

share|improve this answer

mendacity is a great word for untruthfulness (though 'untruthfulness' is another possibility):

The quality of being mendacious; untruthfulness; tendency to lie.

You could say:

I care about mendacity.

That would mean that you care about untruthfulness.

share|improve this answer
It's a good word, however it does not map to the OP's question as the opposite of the "truth". It would be the opposite of "veracity" I would think. –  Tom Auger May 26 '11 at 12:01
It sounds create if you say it in a distinctly Tennessee Williams Southern accent: "The odor of mendacity !" –  Malvolio May 26 '11 at 21:26

I think falsehood would work. Wiktionary says it is both countable and uncountable. Mendacity looks good too, but it appears to be archaic. http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/falsehood#Noun

share|improve this answer
+1 for mentioning falsehood being uncountable. –  MrHen May 26 '11 at 13:01

Falsehood, or simply a lie.

share|improve this answer
How come it's "THE truth" but "A lie"? –  dsg May 26 '11 at 5:06
@MrHen: "I care about falsehoods" or "I care about lies" work grammatically. –  outis May 26 '11 at 6:07
@dsg because by definition there can be only ONE truth, but many possible lies. checkout @Matt-Ellen comment to the question! –  Stefano May 26 '11 at 8:28
I'd think 'I don't care about lies' is the exact opposite of 'I care about lies'. One could care about both lies and the truth. –  GolezTrol May 26 '11 at 10:41
@RiMMER: "I care about the truth" does not mean the same type of thing as "I care about lies" –  MrHen May 26 '11 at 11:41

I was content to monitor this site until this statement was presented and incorrectly analyzed.

First, the reverse of I care about the truth is absolutely not I care about the false. One's care about the truth is an active manifestation or quest for the truth. Lack of care is entirely different from active support. This is similar to the false presumption made by theists that the statement I dispute the claim of the existence of a supernatural being somehow equates to I disbelieve in supernatural beings.

Lack of care about the truth does not equate to care about falsity. There are other possibilities involved such as unknown and apathy. The reversal of I care about the truth might manifest itself as I do not care about the truth or I do not care at all or I do not know. We are not given enough information to know. Until the claimant makes a specific statement as to their intentions, we must conclude that Unknown or I do not care are possibilities.

Thus, if this is an exercise in deductive reasoning, you cannot deductively conclude that one that does not care about truth, actively cares about falsity.

share|improve this answer
I also felt I had to register to back you up, since you are correct. The opposite of I care about the truth is, as you say, I do not care about the truth, but this does not automatically mean that the I in question only speaks untruths. –  Dan Diplo May 26 '11 at 11:03
Don't get hung up on the word "negate" or "reverse". If you can think of a better word to put in its place let me know. As it is, there is a specific meaning I am trying to convey and it has nothing to do with caring and everything to do with truth or the truth. –  MrHen May 26 '11 at 11:23
Your argument dear sir are circular - your premise (First...) is that the reverse of A is not B but C; and you end up with 'since C therefore not B'. MrHen gives intention - his intention is to have a word that can be used in the sentence 'I care about (antonym of truth)'. –  Unreason May 26 '11 at 12:13
@MrHen - You must evaluate the entire sentence. Thus, the problem is not only with the word "truth" and "false" it is with the word "care". "I do not care about X" does not imply that the reverse is "I do care about X". –  Thomas May 26 '11 at 14:04
@Unreason - Then you did not follow the logic. First, the reverse of A is not conclusively B. It could be C or D. I.e., you cannot conclusively state that reverse of A = B. Second, I have no idea where you get "since C therefore B" from my post. –  Thomas May 26 '11 at 14:17

It's worth noting that in Western philosophy, at least since Frege's Über Sinn und Bedeutung, 'the true' and 'the false' have been used as objects.

So in that context it would be quite correct to say:

I care about the false.

share|improve this answer
It's a language thing, not a western thing. "The true" and "the false" are wrong in English, and German sources are simply irrelevant. –  Ben Voigt May 28 '11 at 18:28
@Ben: These things are in the Western philosophy lexicon. (Analytic philosophy if you prefer that term). One of the finest writers in the English language and Nobel Laureate in Literature, Bertrand Russell, often used 'the true' and 'the false' in his writings. The link I provided, although a German title, is to an English wikipedia page. Here's a link to the actual paper (translated). You'll find five mentions of 'the true' and three of 'the false'. I suspect this goes all the way back to Plato. If I have time I'll get those sources. –  boehj May 28 '11 at 23:24
  1. Deception

  2. Falsity

  3. Lies

  4. Untruth

  5. Lie

Of the above, I prefer 'falsity' personally.

share|improve this answer
Strange how the best answer here, falsity, has such few votes... –  Uticensis May 26 '11 at 2:14
@Billare: Strange indeed. I just upvoted it, so it now has 1. Previously it had a net 0, being +1 and -1. So did you not upvote it even after your commment? Or did it actually have 0 before you upvoted (rather than 'few'), and someone then downvoted after you? –  FumbleFingers May 26 '11 at 3:51
I've just added another upvote for falsity. –  John Y May 26 '11 at 4:56
Falsity clearly seems like the best answer to me - it fits similar use-cases to truth. After that I'd go for lies –  Joseph Earl May 27 '11 at 13:39
You can speak a falsehood without lieing. Lieing means you know it's false but are speaking it as a truth. –  SarahofGaia Jul 11 at 4:04

A few options:

  • lies
  • fiction
  • fantasy
  • falsehood
  • fabrication
  • nonsense
  • deception
  • untruth (though you couldn't say, "I stand for the untruth")

He speaks lies!
This deception affects everyone

share|improve this answer
A fiction, fabrication or deception may (and usually does) contain elements of truth, and each is usually more complex than a simple... well, lie. That, or falsehood. +1 for the inclusion of the other words, though, because they fit the OP's example sentences. –  Lunivore May 25 '11 at 19:39
I think "I care about the untrue" works pretty well. –  codebolt May 26 '11 at 11:27
+1 I think I just gave you a gold badge! –  Daniel Sep 24 '11 at 23:12
@drɱ65 It'd be nice, but there's another requirement for the badge that the answer must have the highest score. –  snumpy Sep 27 '11 at 17:43
Well if that ain't the sneakingest... ! –  Daniel Sep 27 '11 at 21:00

protected by RegDwigнt May 26 '11 at 18:17

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality answers, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site.

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.