The Meaning of Mendacity: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of mendacity? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word mendacity, including its meaning, usage, origin, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word mendacity mean?

According to Merriam-Webster English Dictionary and Vocabulary.com, the noun mendacity means a tendency to lie or be untruthful. If someone consistently fibs or is less than honest, this person might be considered mendacious. People can accuse government officials of mendacity, or they could become frustrated with their mendacious friend who is constantly stretching the truth. If someone has a propensity for mendacity or a mendacious condition of being, this could cause other people not to trust them.

According to SparkNotes, mendacity is a theme in the Tennessee Williams play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. In the play, the character Brick tells another character named Big Daddy that mendacity is the system in which men live. Here, he means that everybody lies so much that it is practically the system that the world operates on. Brick is mendacious about his homosexual tendencies, whereas Big Daddy practiced mendacity about his imminent death. Later in the play, the men are forced to confront these secrets. This is one of the most famous instances of the theme of mendacity in popular culture and the arts.

What is the etymology of the word mendacity?

According to Etymonline, the word mendacity has existed since the 1640s. The variations of the word mendacity, mendacious, and mendaciousness come from the Old French mendacité. This comes directly from the Late Latin mendācitās, meaning lie or falsehood, which comes from the Latin mendāx

What are synonyms and antonyms for the word mendacity?

There are many different words that one can use to describe someone who is untruthful. These would all be considered synonyms of the word mendacity. A synonym is a word or phrase that means the same thing as another word or phrase. One might choose to use a synonym to avoid repeating oneself, to expand their vocabulary, or to adjust their level of formality for the situation. A list of a plethora of synonyms for mendacity is below, from Thesaurus.

  • Insincerity
  • Deceit
  • Falsification
  • Untruth
  • Deception
  • Fraud
  • Untruthfulness
  • Prevarication
  • Lie
  • Falsehood
  • Lying
  • Dishonesty
  • Disinformation
  • Evasion
  • Forgery
  • Misrepresentation
  • Slander
  • Calumny
  • Fable
  • Fib
  • Fraudulence
  • Libel
  • Subterfuge
  • Tall tale
  • White lie

But what if someone wants to use a word that is the opposite of mendacity? For this, they can turn to antonyms. Antonyms are words that mean the opposite of a given word or phrase. A list of antonyms for the word mendacity is below, and has also been provided by Thesaurus.

  • Truth
  • Reality
  • Validity
  • Accuracy
  • Honesty
  • Candor
  • Sincerity
  • Authenticity
  • Verity
  • Uprightness
  • Fidelity
  • Facts
  • Trueness
  • Factualness
  • Legitimacy
  • Verisimilitude
  • Infallibility
  • Gospel
  • Principle
  • Truthfulness
  • Maxim
  • Veracity
  • Actuality
  • Honest truth
  • Plain talk
  • Whole story
  • Rightness
  • Rectitude
  • Correctness
  • Exactitude
  • Axiom 

How can the word mendacity be used in a sentence?

Mendacity can be used in a variety of different circumstances. This is not considered a casual word, so one does not need to worry about the word mendacity being too informal for any situation. Mendacity can be used to describe anyone or anything that is less than truthful. In this first scenario, Cece has come home very late and her father is suspicious.

Dad: Cece, where were you? It’s one in the morning

Cece: We were… studying. At Nat’s house. We have an exam on Monday in chemistry.

Dad: Studying? You were studying in a miniskirt, heels, and smudged mascara?

Cece: Yes. No. I plead the fifth.

Dad: I must say, I am surprised at your mendacity. I didn’t think I raised a liar.

Cece: Okay, okay… I just didn’t want you to be mad. I did go over there to study, but Nat’s parents are out of town and her brother threw a huge party. The only reason I stayed so late is because they trashed the place and I had to help Nat clean it up. I promise.

Here, Cece’s dad uses mendacity to show that he is surprised Cece would lie to him so blatantly. In this next example, Cece is talking to her boyfriend about some suspicious texts she found.

Cece: I promise I wasn’t snooping, your phone screen lit up while you were in the shower. Who is Becca?

Boyfriend: Becca is my… lab partner. In chemistry. She was probably texting me about the lab we have on Tuesday.

Cece: Would a lab partner really say she can’t wait to see you? That she can’t wait until your girlfriend goes out of town so you don’t have to hide? What are you hiding, Erlenmeyer flasks?

Boyfriend: Yes?

Cece: I don’t need the mendacity! I need the truth!

Boyfriend: Okay, okay… I shouldn’t lie. I’ve been cheating on you.

Cece: It’s over. You can drop off my stuff tomorrow. I’m out of here. Never speak to me again.

Here, Cece uses the word mendacity in reference to her now ex-boyfriend’s blatant lies. Mendacity can be used to refer to any mistruth as well as a tendency to consistently be untruthful. If someone is constantly lying to someone else, that person could be described with the adjective form of the word, “mendacious.”

Overall, the English word mendacity means a tendency to lie, device, or be untruthful. Mendacity is a noun. The adjective form of the word is mendacious, which can be used to describe someone. If someone has a propensity for mendacity, this means that they are consistently untruthful and have a tendency to lie or stretch the truth. The word mendacity comes from the French mendacité and has its roots in Latin.

Sources:

  1. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mendacity
  2. https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/mendacity
  3. https://www.sparknotes.com/drama/cat/themes/#:~:text=As%20Brick%20pronounces%20to%20Big,desires%20and%20Daddy’s%20imminent%20death.
  4. https://www.thesaurus.com/browse/mendacity
  5. https://www.thesaurus.com/browse/truth