Is there an antonym for lying?
The lyric "You keep lying, when you oughta be truthin'" in "These boots are made for walkin'" made me wonder: does a single word exist which means to speak the truth?
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It only takes a minute to sign up.Sign up to join this community
There is truthing, to truth (as in the lyrics) but it is nonstandard or a neologism.
Wiktionary has three definitions for the verb truth where the transitive usage is obsolete:
- (obsolete, transitive) To assert as true; to declare; to speak truthfully.
- To make exact; to correct for inaccuracy.
- (nonstandard, intransitive) To tell the truth.
OED definition and the latest citation:
intransitive. U.S. colloquial and regional. To tell the truth.
1993 J. Womack Random Acts of Senseless Violence 237 She was lying not truthing
Etymonline says that:
English and most other IE languages do not have a primary verb for "speak the truth," as a contrast to lie (v.).
You can see examples in literature and technical books also if you check Google Books. Some examples have different senses and the gerund form of the word seems to be more common. I've excluded the word ground from the search as there is the technical term "ground truthing" also.
Furthermore, Wikipedia includes this note about verbification under Conversion article:
Verbification may have a bad reputation with some English users because it is such a potent source of neologisms.
Although some neologistic products of verbification may meet considerable opposition from prescriptivist authorities, they are very common in colloquial speech, particularly specialized jargon, where words are needed to describe common actions or experiences.
Level (with) is a verb that can be considered but it is not an exact antonym. OED definition:
To be honest or truthful; to tell the truth, speak frankly, behave honestly or deal straightforwardly (with). slang (originally U.S.).
Other than that, aver might be a close contender but it is mainly used in legal context. MW definition:
to verify or prove to be true in pleading a cause
That's an interesting question. I don't think I've ever come across a pure single-word antonym for 'liar' or 'to lie'. The closest I can give are near-antonyms which serve more to corroborate with existing truths, like attest, validate or testify.
A little bit of research seems to indicate that there is in fact no pure antonym, and the only option is to use a verb phrase instead:
"I lied," is the verb; "I told a lie," is the verb phrase.
So the antonymous verb phrase would be "I told the truth."
Can't seem to come up with anything better than that right now. I briefly entertained the possibility of an antonym to 'prevaricate' like 'varicate' but apparently that's an adjective pertaining to medical research, so no dice.
I'm going to suggest confess.
- To admit to the truth, particularly in the context of sins or crimes committed.
It would fit your lyric well. "You keep lying, when you oughta be confessin'"
I take it you want an antonym for the verb lying. I don't think a single word antonym exists yet in English. But I think it might be in the making.
Wikitionary has an entry, albeit a short one:
Verb: truthing, Present participle of truth.
The Urban Dictionary, however, has an entry for truthing: the act of telling the truth.
It also has one for creative truthing: "When you present the truth in a very unflattering way as a means to deter another person's romantic interest in you (most useful in online dating)."
I was grossly unimpressed when I met Joe for a coffee date. I wasn't lying when I told him that I wanted to get married, have two kids and be a stay at home mom. I was just creative truthing.
Full Metal Mommy, a mommy blogsite, dispels the lies and myths about potty training in Potty Truthing.
Another website, The Human Potential Center, has an article titled TRUTHING AND TRUSTING - An honest look at the effects of dishonesty
An article on Wikileaks: Truthing People into Peace
There is a book about relationships that emphasizes truthing:
“Truthing” is the word we have been using in this chapter to designate simplicity, clarity, honesty and humility in communication. Truthing seeks simplicity..., clarity..., honesty...
It gets a substantial number of hits on Google (- ground, as ground truthing is a method of data collecting in the field).
The Hip Hop usage of the word "represent" comes pretty close. It's a bit narrower in scope than the generic scope of "lie", but certainly accurate in some contexts.
It basically means that someones language and actions match their authentic self -- frequently in hip hop it's narrowed to representing one's true cultural self. For instance, if you are from a certain socio-economic status, it would be a "lie" to talk and act in a way to cover up that truth of your existence. However, if you represent, you try to be authentic to your background in both words and actions.
Whatever one may neologize or 'type convert' ('truthing' or 'to truth'), the way that actual people express the opposite of lying is
telling the truth
There is no necessity that every single word have a corresponding relative single word counterpart (see lexical gap ). Also, there very well may be a single word counterpart to 'lying' (there isn't) but it may be less common than how people (or is it 'persons') actually say things.
You could say 'bear witness' which is the opposite of 'bear false witness', prefixed in the Ten Commandments with 'thou shalt not'.
As a side note I think it stems from the difference in the nature of the words. As truth is viewed as singular as there is only one truth (from one person's perspective anyway) but there are many lies possible as an alternative to that truth. It's very difficult to provide an antonym of a plural which is by nature singular.
"to lie" seems to have a sense of speaking or expressing at the very least.
It's an word to express deliberately hidden unreliability... that's one way of putting it!
So what first came to mind is witness as an antonym, a word to express deliberate open reliability. I'd like to think its awkwardness isn't because of bad grammar but simply unfamiliarity with its use, ie "You need to witness about the dent in the car, not lie about the dent in the car."
But a skim over thesaurus and connotations, lead me to think inform although it's got the more explicit misinform antonym. "You need to inform about the dent in the car, not lie about it".
This is a really interesting point. It seems calculate the opposite of "lying", as stating false, deliberately, results in stating truth, deliberately. That leads me back to witness. But, it may be fair to say, when we humans communicate, it's typical to communicate without false statement. So an opposite of a default state, should be naturally explicit. And "lying" is explicit, where there is no easy answer. Thus, I could propose speaking as an antonym. Hahaha. But, personally, I like witnessing best.