- The quality of consistency with, or commitment to, the truth.
- Having precision in alignment with facts.
Whether found in people, things, or ideas, veracity represents the very essence of truth. Veracity as a quality is most often applied to statements or accounts of events, where it denotes the truthfulness and, moreover, accuracy of what is said. A claim that has veracity is one that is not only true in one or more senses, but accurate in the precise way that it is expressed, creating a foundation upon which knowledge can confidently be built. The term is especially useful in constructing legal cases, characterizing the evidence presented in trials and proceedings.
When applied to people, veracity describes one's predilection for truthful conduct. One who is characterized as having veracity is a generally trustworthy person, one who can be counted on to routinely act in accordance with truth. This usage is not as common as the one ascribed to words (and deeds) as detailed above, but it carries the same credibility when employed as a distinction of one's character.
Example: As unconventional as the third party candidate's political views appear, his poll numbers show the veracity of his popular appeal.
Example: Video footage taken at the time and place of the crime corroborated the veracity of the prosecution's claims.
Veracious: This word also describes something that is factually correct, but as an adjective instead of a noun. However, this term is not considered to be as absolute as veracity—think of veracity as all the way at the truest end of the truth spectrum.
Example: I couldn't believe my friend when he told me how much his new job paid, but his pay stub corroborated that his boast was veracious.
Veracity, as it comes to us today in English, goes all the way back to the Latin word "verax," which in turn comes from "verus," meaning "true." From there it evolved into the Medieval Latin word "veracitas," and in the 17th century it entered French as "véracité." The current English form was adapted from this French term shortly thereafter (later that century).
From Terry Pratchet's Small Gods (Discworld, #13):
"Life in this world," he said, "is, as it were, a sojourn in a cave. What can we know of reality? For all we see of the true nature of existence is, shall we say, no more than bewildering and amusing shadows cast upon the inner wall of the cave by the unseen blinding light of absolute truth, from which we may or may not deduce some glimmer of veracity, and we as troglodyte seekers of wisdom can only lift our voices to the unseen and say, humbly, ‘Go on, do Deformed Rabbit . . . it's my favorite.'"
Here, Pratchet's speaker, in retelling the famous cave metaphor of Plato, invokes the word veracity to capture the kernel of truth that is gleaned from seeing the shadows on the cave wall. The light casting these shadows, which is unseen by the cave-dwellers, represents absolute truth, and so the pure fact, or veracity, from the shadows is the only remnant that is left.
- With veracity, you can verify that your claim is true.
Bring out the linguist in you! What is your own interpretation of veracity. Did you use veracity in a game? Provide an example sentence or a literary quote.