I'm looking for a word that has the specific connotation/denotation about the speaker's ability to speak truthfully based on their knowledge of the subject that they are speaking about.

For example:

I cannot speak with _ about your legal problem, because I am not an attorney.

I'd like the word to render the phrase after the comma redundant.

  • 1
    Please note: can not is not the same as cannot. You probably want the latter here. Commented Jan 11, 2011 at 16:54
  • truthiness, of course...
    – Tesserex
    Commented Jan 11, 2011 at 19:34
  • @Mr.ShinyandNew安宇: What? They're not the same?
    – Mitch
    Commented Jan 20, 2014 at 16:39

7 Answers 7


Authority would fit.

I cannot speak with any authority about your legal problem.


How about a simple "I am not qualified to..." or "I am not in a position to..."?


"authority" would be a reasonable choice in your sentence. I would reword it to say "I can not speak authoritatively ..." though.

  • >I would reword it to say "I can not speak authoritatively ..." though.> I wouldn't personally, it's much less common than 'I cannot speak with any authority', not to mention the fact that it's something of a tonguetwister!
    – user3444
    Commented Jan 11, 2011 at 16:24

I think perhaps you're looking for accuracy, rather than truthfulness. Were it truthfulness, I'd say perhaps "I can not speak forthrightly…"

Other than accuracy, I'd suggest authority.


My thought is: veracity. But the additional condition of not being a lawyer would negate the cannot, unless you really intended to say can not.


My first choice: "credibility". "Authority", already suggested, is also fine. Perhaps "reliably" as well.


The OP's apparent belief that the word "truthfully" is a natural corollary to "knowledge" and vice versa is somewhat difficult to reconcile in trying to answer the OP with a one-word suggestion. An informed person or expert in his field might still answer untruthfully but this may be due to mendacity, not a failure in his knowledge or personal expertise.

The late British politician Alan Clark coined the phrase that he "had been economic with the truth" when discovered to have been less than truthful in a previous answer to something or other. It's an idiom rather than one-word but it ties in with a person's veracity and credibility, and underlines the somewhat illogical link that the OP makes with "truthfulness" and "knowledge".

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