Truth is that which is in accord with reality, fact, and experience, that which is authentic. Truth can include facts, and truth can include a coherence with experience. The word in English derives from an older word similar to that meaning faithful (truth is that which is faithful to reality or experience), and ultimately is derived from a root meaning tree. To be truthful is to be as straight and strong as a tree. Other languages have words for truth (veritas, pravda, etc.) that have different derivations.

These quotations explore aspects of truth and truth-telling.

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Unity without verity is no better than conspiracy.

— John Trapp

Besides, as the vilest Writer has his Readers, so the greatest Liar has his Believers; and it often happens, that if a Lie be believ’d only for an Hour, it has done its Work, and there is no farther occasion for it. Falsehood flies, and the Truth comes limping after it; so that when Men come to be undeceiv’d, it is too late; the Jest is over, and the Tale has had its Effect…

— Jonathan Swift

A man must be both stupid and uncharitable who believes there is no virtue or truth but on his own side.

— Joseph Addison

Nevertheless, a distinction must be made between skepticism as a philosophical thesis and skepticism as an attitude in life. As a philosophical thesis, it is a contradictory one, since it affirms the impossibility of knowing truth, although this affirmation itself claims to be true. Thus, skepticism as a thesis refutes itself in the very act of being formulated. The other aspect is different: this is the abstention from all judgments, skepticism in life, which neither affirms nor denies. This skepticism appears in history time and again, although here, too, it is doubtful whether human life can remain floating in this abstention without taking root in convictions.

— Julián Marías, History of Philosophy

Of life’s two chief prizes, beauty and truth, I found the first in a loving heart and the second in a laborer’s hand.

— Kahlil Gibran

Man can certainly keep on lying (and does so), but he cannot make truth falsehood.

— Karl Barth

Competence, like truth, beauty and contact lenses, is in the eye of the beholder.

— Laurence Peter and Raymond Hull, The Peter Principle

I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives.

— Leo Tolstoy

What a word is truth. Slippery, tricky, unreliable. I tried in these books to tell the truth.

— Lillian Hellman, Three, 1979

Truth made you a traitor as it often does in a time of scoundrels.

— Lillian Hellman, Scoundrel Time, 1976

Cynicism is an unpleasant way of saying the truth.

— Lillian Hellman

Nobody outside of a baby carriage or a judge's chamber believes in an unprejudiced point of view.

— Lillian Hellman

Science makes people reach selflessly for truth and objectivity; it teaches people to accept reality, with wonder and admiration, not to mention the deep awe and joy that the natural order of things brings to the true scientist.

— Lise Meitner

Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants…

— Louis D. Brandeis

The general rule of law is, that the noblest of human productions — knowledge, truths ascertained, conceptions, and ideas — become, after voluntary communication to others, free as the air to common use.

— Louis D. Brandeis

The historian should be fearless and incorruptible; a man of independence, loving frankness and truth; one who, as the poet says, calls a fig a fig and a spade a spade. He should yield to neither hatred nor affection, but should be unsparing and unpitying. He should be neither shy nor deprecating, but an impartial judge, giving each side all it deserves but no more. He should know in his writings no country and no city; he should bow to no authority and acknowledge no king. He should never consider what this or that man will think, but should state the facts as they really occurred.

— Lucian, How History Should Be Written

Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.

— Lucius Annaeus Seneca

I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I’m a human being, first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.

— Malcolm X

If it is not right do not do it; if it is not true do not say it.

— Marcus Aurelius

This life is what you make it. No matter what, you’re going to mess up sometimes, it’s a universal truth. But the good part is you get to decide how you’re going to mess it up.

— Marilyn Monroe

Others are affected by what I am, and say, and do. So that a single act of mine may spread and spread in widening circles, through a nation or humanity. Through my vice I intensify the taint of vice throughout the universe. Through my misery I make multitudes sad. On the other hand, every development of my virtue makes me an ampler blessing to my race. Every new truth that I gain makes me a brighter light to humanity.

— Mark Collins

In religion and politics people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.

— Mark Twain

A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.

— Mark Twain, attributed

If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed.

— Mark Twain

A lie will fly around the whole world while the truth is getting its boots on.

— Mark Twain, posthumously credited, 1919

Every generalization is dangerous, especially this one.

— Mark Twain

I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.

— Martin Luther King Jr.

Constant development is the law of life, and a man who always tries to maintain his dogmas in order to appear consistent drives himself into a false position.

— Mohandas K. Gandhi

Constant development is the law of life, and a man who always tries to maintain his dogmas in order to appear consistent drives himself into a false position.

— Mohandas K. Gandhi

Silence becomes cowardice when occasion demands speaking out the whole truth and acting accordingly.

— Mohandas K. Gandhi
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