was featured by Dr. Stephen T. Colbert, D.F.A. on "The Wørd" segment of "The Colbert Report"
For all wørds featured, click here, for's dictionary, click here.

is just one of the many gifts the Dr. Stephen T. Colbert, D.F.A.
has bestowed upon all of humankind. Thank you Dr. Colbert, thank you.
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Truthiness is what you want the facts to be, as opposed to what the facts are. What feels like the right answer as opposed to what reality will support.
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October 17, 2005 The Colbert Report

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"Be without fear in the face of thine enemies. Being brave and upright, that God may love thee. Speak the TRUTHINESS always, even if it leads to your death. Safeguard the persecuted Republicans and oil companies; that is your oath. [Slaps Ballsian] And that is so you remember it."
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~ Godfrey of Ibelin


Truthiness is the reality that is intuitively known without regard to liberal ideals such as reason and logic. It is the truth that is felt deep down, in the gut. It can't be found in books, which are all facts and no heart (except for the one true book, I Am America (And So Can You!) It is absolute, and can only be infallibly known by the gut of Stephen Colbert. It can only be felt by Americans with huge brass balls and is also a word so straight that it drives men wildEpisode #535.

In the past decade, occurrences of truthiness have tripled in the United States. The rest of the world, sadly, lags far behind.


LeftCherub.pngLeftCherub.pngIn the beginning there was The Wørd, and The Wørd was Truthiness.RightCherub.pngRightCherub.png
~ The Holy Bible, Beppo 1:1

On the debut episode of The Colbert Report, the #1 television show of all time, Dr. Stephen T. Colbert, D.F.A. unveiled truthiness to a desperate nation. Stephen Colbert was the first human being on the planet to conceive the concept of truthiness and give it a name that encapsulates all its grandeur. Recent fabrications by the liberal media would have you believe that a man named Benjamin Zimmer invented the word, but their sources are their brains, not their guts, ergo they could not know about truthiness at all.


Hey! We did it BEFORE Obama!

Colbert introduced the word truthiness on the premiere episode of The Colbert Report, on October 17, 2005. According to Newsweek, he came up with the idea of truthiness just moments before filming for the show began. He used truthiness in a monologue that emphasized its role as a source that can be trusted, because it feels right.

Stephen described truthiness in the first segment of "The WØRD":

Truthiness Quotes

Eat it, Oxford Dictionary!

  • I tell it like it is. I calls them like I sees them. I will speak to you in plain, simple English. And that brings us to tonight's Wørd: Truthiness.
  • Now I'm sure some of the 'word police,' the Wordonistas over at Webster's are gonna say, "Hey, that's not a word!"
  • Well, anybody who knows me knows I'm no fan of dictionaries or reference books - they're elitist. Constantly telling us what is or isn't true or what did or didn't happen. Who's Britannica to tell me the Panama Canal was finished in 1914? If I want to say it was happened in 1941, that's my right.
  • I don't trust books. They're all fact, no heart. And that's exactly what's pulling our country apart today. 'Cause face it, folks: we are a divided nation. Not between Democrats and Republicans, or Conservatives and liberals, or tops and bottoms. No. We are divided between those who think with their head, and those who know with their heart.
  • Consider Harriet Miers. If you think about Harriet Miers, of course her nomination's absurd. But the president didn't say he thought about his selection. He said "I know her heart". Notice how he said nothing about her brain? He didn't have to. He feels the truth about Harriet Miers."
  • And what about Iraq? If you think about it, maybe there are a few missing pieces to the rationale for war. But doesn't taking Saddam out feel like the right thing? Right here? Right here in the gut? Cause that's where the truth comes from ladies and gentlemen. The gut.
  • Do you know you have more nerve endings in your stomach than in your head? Look it up. Now somebody's gonna say, "I did look that up and it's wrong." Well mister, that's cause you looked it up in a book. Next time, try looking it up in your gut. I did. And my gut tells me that's how our nervous system works.
  • Now I know some of you may not trust your gut... yet. But with my help you will.
  • The Truthiness is: anyone can read the news to you. I promise to feel the news at you."
  • You can't prove truthiness with facts. You can only prove truthiness with more truthiness, in a process called: Truthinessiness

The Truthiness Monkeys

The Truthiness Monkeys
Depicted here in an ancient carving over the entrance to "The Temple of Truthiness".

The Truthiness Monkeys (Obedience, Ignorance and Fear) were 3 monkey brothers working on writing Dan Brown's book, "The DaVinci Code" when, during a feces-throwing break, they realized the un-truthiness of writing a "fictional" book that used "facts" as its foundation.

For days the brothers flip-flopped between throwing feces at each other and being a part of Dan Brown's lie. Finally, after listening to Rush Limbaugh for 14 hours straight, "Fear" decided enough was enough; the brothers would blow the whistle on Dan Brown and the other factonistas who controlled the "fact sweatshops" throughout the world.

"Ignorance" had no idea what "Fear" was talking about, but "Obedience" was more than happy to do what "Fear" told him to do.

And the brothers were off.

At first it was a clandestine operation; the brothers moved from "fact sweatshop" to "fact sweatshop" secretly adding their own truth to every book they worked on, until every fiction book on The New York Times bestseller list contained something from the three brothers.

It wasn't until Stephen Colbert picked up a book by Al Franken that the brothers' work was discovered. Dr. Colbert used his own patented The DaColbert Code to decipher the hidden message from the brothers in Franken's Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot.

Because the brothers were monkeys and had no idea what they were typing (Ignorance's idea) they didn't know what to call what they were doing (And even if they did, they were monkeys and couldn't speak English).

But Stephen did, and Stephen could.

And "truthiness" was born.


In "The WØRD" on July 31, 2006, Colbert defined "Wikiality" (a portmanteau of "Wikipedia" and "reality") as "truth by consensus" (rather than fact), modeled after the approval-by-consensus format of Wikipedia. He ironically praised Wikipedia for following his philosophy of "truthiness", that intuition and consensus is a better reflection of reality than fact, while editing two articles on Wikipedia to his liking (Oregon and George Washington). As he stated, "if enough people believe something", it must be true. He also called on people to edit Wikipedia so it says certain things, such as the African elephant population has tripled in six months, which spurred a rash of joke edits.Template:Ref In August 2006, Colbert thanked his viewers for making the Wikipedia entry on truthiness longer than the one for the Lutheran church. Since its creation Wikiality has become one of the most accurate pages on the internet to find the Truth and Truthiness. It is also one of the greatest sites on the internet.

DramaticQuestionMark.png Did you know...

Truthiness is a term invented, copyrighted, and trademarked by Stephen Colbert.

Popularity and widespread use

The Power of Truthiness Compels You!!

Colbert invented its new definition and popularized it among a mainstream audience. "Truthiness" was selected by the American Dialect Society as the 2005 Word of the Year, and by the The New York Times as one of nine words that captured the spirit of 2005. "Truthiness" has also been discussed in the Washington Post, USA Today, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Chicago Tribune, Newsweek, CNN, MSNBC, the Associated Press, Editor & Publisher, Salon, The Huffington Post, and Chicago Reader, and on ABC's Nightline, CBS's 60 Minutes, and The Oprah Winfrey Show. In January 2006, "truthiness" was featured as a Word of the Week by the website of the Macmillan English Dictionary.[1]

CNN and ABC News coverage

Six days after Colbert introduced "truthiness", CNN's Reliable Sources featured a discussion of The Colbert Report by host Howard Kurtz, who played a clip of Colbert mentioning truthiness.[2]

On the same day, ABC's Nightline also reported on truthiness, prompting Colbert to respond by saying "You know what was missing from that piece? Me. Stephen Colbert. But I'm not surprised. Nightline's on opposite me..." Nightline host Jake Tapper had in fact made reference to watching The Colbert Report after Monday Night Football, which pushes Nightline away from conflicting with the Report, so that he could watch it without feeling guilty.[3]

Truthiness was used on Around The Horn on ESPN on November 15 2006

The New York Times coverage

In its October 25 issue, eight days after the premiere episode of the Report, The New York Times ran its third article on The Colbert Report, penned by Alessandra Stanley, titled "Bringing Out the Absurdity of the News."[4] The article specifically discussed the segment on "truthiness", although the Times misreported the word as "trustiness". In its November 1 issue, the Times ran a correction clarifying that the Wørd had been "truthiness", not "trustiness". On the next episode of the Report, Colbert took the Times to task for the error, pointing out (with ironic relish) that "trustiness" is "not even a word".

In its December 25 issue, the Times again discussed "truthiness", this time as one of nine words that had captured the year's zeitgeist, in an article titled "2005: In a Word; Truthiness" by Jacques Steinberg. In crediting "truthiness", Steinberg said, "the pundit who probably drew the most attention in 2005 was only playing one on TV: Stephen Colbert."[5]

In the January 22 issue, columnist Frank Rich used the term "truthiness" seven times, with credit to Colbert, in a column titled "Truthiness 101: From Frey to Alito", to discuss Republican portrayals of several issues (including the Samuel Alito nomination, Katrina response, and Jack Murtha's wartime record). Rich emphasized the extent to which the word "truthiness" had quickly become a cultural fixture, saying, "The mock Comedy Central pundit Stephen Colbert's slinging of the word 'truthiness' caught on instantaneously last year precisely because we live in the age of truthiness." Editor & Publisher magazine reported on Rich's use of "truthiness" in his column, saying he "tackled the growing trend to 'truthiness,' as opposed to truth, in the U.S."[6]

The January 30 issue of the Times included an article titled "How Oprahness Trumped Truthiness" by David Carr, although the article itself did not refer to "truthiness". Because the editors write the headlines in all stories for the Times, the "truthiness" reference must have been added by the editors to describe the theme of Carr's article.[7]

American Dialect Society's Word of the Year

On January 6, 2006, the American Dialect Society announced that truthiness was selected as its 2005 Word of the Year. The Society described its rationale as follows:

"In its 16th annual words of the year vote, the American Dialect Society voted truthiness as the word of the year. First heard on The Colbert Report, a satirical mock news show on the Comedy Channel, truthiness refers to the quality of stating concepts or facts one wishes or believes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true. As Stephen Colbert put it, 'I don't trust books. They're all fact, no heart.'"

Apparently after realizing that "truthiness" was found in the Oxford English Dictionary, the Society later changed the wording of this press release on their website, from "First heard on The Colbert Report..." to "Recently popularized on The Colbert Report..."

Merriam-Webster's 2006 Word Of The Year

On December 8, 2006, by a 5-1 margin, truthiness was chosen as Merriam-Webster's Word of the Year, easily beating 'the google.'

Merriam-Webster's definition:

tru•thi•ness \'trü-thē-nəs\ n
1 : truth that comes from the gut, not books (Stephen Colbert, Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report," October 2005)
2 : the quality of preferring concepts or facts one wishes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true (American Dialect Society, January 2006)

The missing definition.

However, truthiness is not in its rightful place on page 1344 of Merriam-Webster's dictionary between 'truthful' and 'truth serum'. The definazis at Merriam-Webster don't know the meaning of the word 'word.'

The corrected page 1344 is available from the Colbert Nation website.

Alleged snubbing by the Associated Press, and Colbert's response

The Associated Press reported on the American Dialect Society's selection of truthiness as the Word of the Year,[8] including the following comments by one of the voting linguists:

"Michael Adams, a professor at North Carolina State University who specializes in lexicology, said "truthiness" means 'truthy, not facty.' 'The national argument right now is, one, who's got the truth and, two, who's got the facts,' he said. 'Until we can manage to get the two of them back together again, we're not going make much progress.'"

Colbert putting Michael Adams on the "On Notice" board, for defining "truthiness" in a news story that did not mention Colbert.

On each of the first four episodes of the Report after the selection of truthiness as Word of the Year, Colbert lamented that news reports neglected to acknowledge him as the source of the word. On the first of these episodes, he added Michael Adams to his "On Notice" board, and Associated Press reporter Heather Clark, the author of the article, to his "Dead to Me" board.[9] On the third of these episodes, he ranked the AP at the top of the "Threat-Down",[10] one of few entries ever to gain the number one spot in place of bears. On the following episode he called Michael Adams and asked for an apology. Though Michael Adams never apologized, Colbert "accepted" his "apology", and took him "off notice."

The Associated Press responds to Colbert

On January 13, the first day after the four-day run of abuse of the AP on the Report, the AP ran a story about The Colbert Report being upset about being snubbed by the AP, in an article titled "Colbert: AP the biggest threat to America." As he has in the past, Colbert remained in character in an interview for the story, and used it to further the political satire of "truthiness"; excerpts of the story are:

"...When an AP story about the designation sent coast to coast failed to mention Colbert, he began a tongue-in-cheek crusade, not unlike the kind his muse Bill O'Reilly might lead in all seriousness."
"'It's a sin of omission...' Stephen Colbert told the AP on Thursday....'It's like Shakespeare still being alive and not asking him what "Hamlet" is about,' he said."
"The Oxford English Dictionary has a definition for 'truthy' dating back to the 1800s....'The fact that they looked it up in a book just shows that they don't get the idea of truthiness at all,' Stephen Colbert said Thursday. 'You don't look up truthiness in a book, you look it up in your gut.'"
"Though slight, the difference of Colbert's definition and the OED's is essential. It's not your typical truth, but, as The New York Times wrote, 'a summation of what (Colbert) sees as the guiding ethos of the loudest commentators on Fox News, MSNBC and CNN.'"
"Colbert, who referred on his program to the AP omission as a 'journalistic travesty,' said Thursday that it was similar to the much-criticized weapons of mass destruction reporting leading up to the Iraq War. 'Except,' he said, 'people got hurt this time.'"

On January 14, Clark herself responded in an article titled "Exclusive 'News' - I'm dead to Stephen Colbert."[11] She furthered the rise of "truthiness" in published English in conceding, "Truthiness be told, I never had seen The Colbert Report until my name graced its 'Dead to Me' board this week....But I will say that I watched Colbert's show for the first time...It was funny. And that's not just truthy. That's a fact."

James Frey controversy

The Chicago Tribune published an editorial in its January 16, 2006 issue titled "The Truthiness Hurts," crediting the rise of "truthiness" as serendipitously providing an apt description of the Oprah Book Club controversy over James Frey's semi-fictional memoir A Million Little Pieces.[12] "Truthiness" was also used to describe the Frey controversy by USA Today in its January 15, 2006 issue,[13] by several other publications including the The New York Times[14] and by the television news program Nightline on its October 23 and January 26 editions.

Oprah Winfrey also discussed truthiness with Frank Rich on her show, in reference to the Frey controversy and the column "Truthiness 101" Rich had recently published in the New York Times.[15] They also mentioned Colbert's role in popularizing "truthiness."[7]

On January 27, MSNBC ran a commentary titled "Oprah strikes a blow for truthiness: Do facts really matter? Ask Winfrey, James Frey or Stephen Colbert," making the case that Winfrey's about-face on Frey's book was a "small (and belated) but bold nudge back out of the proud halls of truthiness," but also opportunistic and too little too late.[16]

Oprah Embraces Truthiness

On her talk show, Oprah has recently acknowledged the addition of truthiness to her vocabulary, and accepted all that which it stands for.

Additional attention

On January 5, 2006, one day before its announcement as the American Dialect Society's Word of the Year, etymology professor Anatoly Liberman began an hour-long program on public radio by discussing "truthiness" and predicting that it would be included in dictionaries in the next year or two.[17] His prediction seemed to be on track when the website of the Macmillan English Dictionary featured "truthiness" as its Word of the Week at the end of January.[1]

Intellectual property attorney Marty Schwimmer has suggested that Colbert may be able to claim rights to the word "truthiness" as a trademark or under a right of publicity.[18]

The February 13, 2006, issue of Newsweek magazine featured an article on The Colbert Report titled "The Truthiness Teller."[19] It recounted the career of the word "truthiness" since its popularization by Colbert as described above.

On January 31, 2006, Arianna Huffington used truthiness on the Huffington Post.[20] Huffington later appeared as a guest on the March 1, 2006, episode of The Colbert Report. She challenged Colbert on his claim that he had invented the word "truthiness". During the interview, Colbert declared, "I'm not a truthiness fanatic; I'm truthiness's father." Huffington corrected him, citing Wikipedia, that he had merely "popularized" the term. Regarding her source, Colbert, in-character, responded: "Fuck them."[21]

On May 4, 2006, Liberal Party of Canada leadership contender Ken Dryden used "truthiness" as an extensive theme in a speech in the House of Commons. The speech dealt critically with the current government's Universal Child Care Plan.[22] Dryden defined truthiness as "something that is spoken as if true that one wants others to believe is true, that said often enough with enough voices orchestrated in behind it, might even sound true, but is not true."

On June 3, 2006, after Colbert delivered the commencement speech at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, he was presented with both an honorary degree and a purple T-shirt bearing a logo that reads, "Veritasiness Tour", creating a semi-Latinized version of "truthiness."[23]

On August 9, 2006, and Brave New Films launched a satirical petition campaign against Stephen Colbert and 'Truthiness' entitled "Stop the Falsiness" in anticipation of MoveOn founder Eli Pariser's appearance on The Report.

On August 14, 2006, on the Glenn Beck TV program on CNN Headline news, in describing the 60 Minutes interview with the president of Iran, Glenn said, "I hate to engage in what Stephen Colbert calls "Truthiness" but that's pretty much all I got..."

Describing President Bush in person

At the 2006 White House Correspondents' Association Dinner, with President Bush seated a single seat away, Stephen Colbert describes Bush by reiterating gut feeling in truthiness.

On April 29, 2006, Colbert was the featured guest at the White House correspondents' dinner and, in President Bush's immediate presence, described Bush's thought processes by repeating almost verbatim some of his original description of truthiness, although he did not use the word itself.

Non-it-getters again used truthiness to describe Colbert's "criticism" of President Bush, in an article published the same day entitled Colbert Lampoons Bush at White House Correspondents Dinner--President Not Amused? E&P reported that the "blistering comedy 'tribute' to President Bush ... left George and Laura Bush unsmiling at its close" and that many people at the dinner "looked a little uncomfortable at times, perhaps feeling the material was a little too biting--or too much speaking 'truthiness' to power."[1] E&P reported a few days later that its coverage of Colbert at the dinner drew "possibly its highest one-day traffic total ever", and published a letter to the editor asserting that "Colbert brought truth wrapped in truthiness."[2]

On the same weekend, the Washington Post published transcripts of segments from The Colbert Report under the heading "dept. of truthiness;"[24] Salon covered Colbert at the White House dinner in an article entitled "The Truthiness Hurts: Stephen Colbert's brilliant performance unplugged the Bush myth machine -- and left the clueless D.C. press corps gaping;" (The truthiness hurts by Michael Scherer) and the popular news program 60 Minutes on CBS featured an interview with Colbert by Morley Safer, in which Safer discussed truthiness.[3]

DramaticQuestionMark.png Did you know...

The popularity of "truthiness" in blog posts hit a new peak after Colbert appeared at the White House Correspondents Association dinner on April 29, 2006. Earlier rises are seen immediately after Colbert introduced the word on October 17, 2005; the American Dialect Society announced it as their Word of the Year on January 6, 2006; and various media outlets began using it in reference to the James Frey controversy, beginning with USA Today on January 15.

Colbert's effort at the WHCA dinner prompted "truthiness" to hit a new popularity peak in blog postings following the dinner[4] - even though he did not actually use the word at the dinner, demonstrating the widespread association of Colbert with "truthiness."}}

The New York Times published two letters on the dinner in its May 3, 2006 edition, under the headline "Truthiness and Power".(Truthiness and Power by Gloria D. Howard; William M. Phillian)

See also


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External Tubes

A Truthimentary
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Makes The Baby Jesus™ Happy
And that Makes Stephen happy, too!