Word: mendacious

Pronunciation: men-DAY-shəs

Part of Speech: adjective

Definition: not telling the truth; lying

Source: Oxford Dictionaries


Here’s a word you’re probably not likely to use much, but that I still think is worth knowing. When I first read the word “mendacious” on a flashcard, I couldn’t even begin to figure out what it meant, because it was one of those words that didn’t sound like any other I’d heard with the same definition. Still, I decided it was worth sharing when I recently came across it again. If it comes up in standardized test prep material, it must be coming up in advanced texts too, right?

“Mendacious” refers to that which is untruthful in nature. The word comes from the Latin adjective mendax, which means “false” or “deceitful”. This adjective is related to the noun mendum, meaning “fault”.

There isn’t much else I can say about a word that I’ve only ever read on a flashcard. I imagine that “mendacious” must have been used much more in the past, but has since fallen into the gray area of purple prose. Or maybe I’m just that far behind on my reading. In any case, I’m sure you can find a good place for this word in your writing if you try. As for me, the best I can do with it for now is a poetic description of my craft: What is fiction if not a “mendacious” account of reality?

What are your thoughts on this word? Any suggestions for future “Word of the Week” featured words?

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