Monthly Archives: April 2013

Truth the Elusive

The Meaning of the word “Truth”

Obvious question: what does the word “truth” actually mean?

Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to the dictionary truth we go….
In this case however, the dictionary led me on a remarkable journey….

When pursuing truth in word, I find it useful to abandon the modern meanings, which just tangle me up in so much of the convenient ambiguity of words today… and instead go to the Origins section. Here we find Old and Middle English, German, French, Dutch, Norse and Latin, and sometimes a treat: the Proto-Indo-European language that precedes them all.

I’ll keep my chronicle short, and instead of quoting all the references, just string together the essential meanings in order….

True means Faith or Faithful, or in Proto-Indo-European, means Tree, as in Steadfast

Truth means Faith or Faithfulness
(Under “truth” there was rather a long piece on its meaning according to the bible dictionary)

Faith means Trust
(The bible dictionary waxed lengthily lyrical with this one – talk about making something simple into an absolute labyrinth of opinion, obfuscation, and dogma!)

Trust means Comfort or Confidence

Confidence means to trust, which just loops back

Comfort means to Strengthen, which means to give Power to

Strengthen is from Streng, Strong and Strange (Middle English, Old German, Dutch) which came from the Latin meaning Foreign, from outside of.

Does this Middle English/Latin equation of strong and stranger come from the fact that foreigners – the strangers – were stronger and more powerful? It does sound like the history of Britain with its waves of conquerors throwing their weight around, and the Romans being the ones throwing their weight around everywhere… however we seem to have wandered a long way from our imagined or hypothesized definition of “truth”! We seem to have lost the inner feel for Truth and instead thinking of it as something outside of us….. but if we dig deeper into those old words….

Streng/String is ┬áto bind, from Proto-Indo-European base *strenk = “tight, narrow; pull tight, twist”

Strang, streng, string, strong, strung….

I thought that finding the definition of the world “truth” would take a few moments, but I’ve been at it for over 3 hours! It just keeps going sideways or getting deeper…

Faith, trust, confidence, power, honesty are all in there, but rather derivative.

Bottom line

It seems to have all come down to “pulled tight under strain”, “steadfast like a tree”, from the “original” Proto-Indo-European language.

I reckon that’s getting close to the core….
Don’t you find that Truth can often be powerful, pretty hard to take when we get exposed or “put in a tight spot” and that puts us under strain? It binds us to stay true once it has come to light. However, “getting out of our own way”, “getting over our stuff”, “coming clean” being honest, in other words embracing Truth, does make us powerful and the uncomfortable feeling drops away.

Truth feels strong, steadfast, the bottom line – you can’t get any realer or more fundamental, no matter how much our minds entertain us with elusive ideas. Truth is the best gift to anyone, no matter how strong it may seem at the time.
Our inner hearts know.