I am currently twirling around in circles trying to find this word. I've heard it used before, and I want to use it in something I am writing, but I can't remember it. On the tip of my brain, but not falling off.

Anyway, the word means something like to state the obvious truth, and it is so obvious that there is little point in stating it.

If I were to use it in a sentence, it would be found in the blank:

"To state it is to utter a ________."

Well, that might be a poor sample sentence.

Edited to add:

Okay, those are all good Thesaurus words, but not the one I am looking for. A further clue is that the word is somewhat pejorative, or perhaps somewhat negative. And it is definitely a noun. I will recognize when it is posted, I promise.

  • I'd suggest self-evident but it doesn't fit in your sentence.
    – Jim
    Nov 20, 2014 at 5:10
  • 3
    But my best answer is so obvious I decided not to post it.
    – Jim
    Nov 20, 2014 at 5:13
  • @Jim, that was funny. Not quite ROFL, but definitely LOL. Nov 20, 2014 at 5:30
  • tautology is obvious by definition - like "the blue sky looked very blue today"
    – Rob
    Feb 28, 2017 at 21:08

4 Answers 4


A term that comes to mind from logic is vacuous truth (statement of what cannot be untrue), like WP's example:

[The] statement 'all cell phones in the room are turned off' may be true simply because there are no cell phones in the room."

Another from logic is tautology (statement of what must be true). I've heard this colloquially applied to phrases like First things first, Enough is enough, or Tomorrow is another day.

I've sometimes found use in shibboleth for the cases in between, as MW says:

an old idea, opinion, or saying that is commonly believed and repeated but that may be seen as old-fashioned or untrue

  • 1
    Ding-ding-ding! That's it! Tautology is the word! You win an all-expenses paid trip to the dining room! Thankyou! My brain is now content with the universe. Temporarily, at least. Nov 20, 2014 at 5:33
  • 1
    Is the usage of "tautology" to mean "axiomatic truth" or "given" relatively recent? I understood "tautology" to mean, more specifically, the unnecessary repetition of an idea, as in a combination of words like "feline cat." Is this particular usage in philosophy/logic?
    – Rusty Tuba
    Nov 20, 2014 at 5:39
  • @RustyTuba Probably. I picked up using it that way joking around with friends after logic/philosophy classes. (And from webcomics.) I think the philosophical definition, joining propositions instead of words, still envelops these uses though. (For example, what is "feline cat" but the merging of two essentially equal propositions: "there exists an object that is feline" and "that object is also a cat"?) But I think you're right when you think this usage is recent.
    – user39720
    Nov 20, 2014 at 6:03

It is a given.

Definition from Merriam-Webster online:

something that is regarded or accepted as true or real : a basic fact or assumption

Or it is self-evident.

Definition from Merriam-Webster online:

clearly true and requiring no proof or explanation

This appears in a noun phrase as:

a self-evident truth


obviousness but "axiom" as Medica suggested is, probably, better


Are you thinking of an axiom?

A self-evident or universally recognized truth

There's also an aphorism:

a terse saying embodying a general truth or astute observation.

Along the lines of axiom is maxim, and along the lines of an aphorism is an apophthegm.

There's also truism:

a common statement that is obviously true; a self-evident, obvious truth, esp. a cliché.

  • Yes, axiom is a good word for this, but not the word I was looking for. Thanks anyway! Nov 20, 2014 at 17:39

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