"veracity" -- a possible antedating (sense 2.a)?

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Sat Oct 29 00:11:39 UTC 2011

Should the quotation below be taken as an instance of "veracity", in --

(1)  Sense "1. a. The quality or character in persons of speaking or
stating the truth; habitual observance of the truth; truthfulness,
veraciousness," which dates from 1623?  Or

(2)  Sense "2.a. Agreement of statement or report with the actual
fact or facts; accordance with truth; correctness, accuracy," in
which case it antedates OED2  1736-?

"In the History of Nature we must not depend upon the Authority of
the number of those that only transcribe the same thing, without duly
examining the Matter themselves: For the Authority here wholly
depends on the veracity of the first Relator."

Edward Tyson, Philological Essay (an addendum to Orang-Outang, sive
Homo Sylvestrus), 1699, p. 44.  As cited in M. F. Ashley Montagu,
Edward Tyson (1943).

Tyson is speaking of the many naturalists who all took their
descriptions of certain anthropoid apes from a single original
writer.  I don't see his use of "veracity" as meaning "truthfulness";
that is, that the original relator might have been disposed not to
tell the truth.  Rather, Tyson seems to be saying that the original
relator might have been incorrect, inaccurate.  Thus I vote for sense
2, and an antedating.


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list