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[troo-iz-uh m] /ˈtru ɪz əm/
a self-evident, obvious truth.
Origin of truism
1700-10; true + -ism
Related forms
truistic, truistical, adjective
Can be confused
truism, truth (see confusables note at the current entry)
cliché, platitude.
Confusables note
Contrary to what some people believe, the word truism is not a more elegant word for truth. While the word truth can occasionally be used to refer to a “truism,” since truisms are often true, the reverse—the use of truism to mean “truth”—is unwise. Truism stands for a certain kind of truth—a cliché, a platitude, something so self-evident that it is hardly worth mentioning. One can use it to accuse another writer or speaker of saying something so obvious or evident and trite that pointing it out is pointless. To say that a statement is a truism when you intend to compliment it as truthful, factual, even provable, will merely serve to confuse those who know that calling something a truism is not praise, but a criticism or insult.
Note, however, that truism is used in a technical sense in mathematics or philosophy for restating something that is already known from its terms or premises. Examples of such truisms include: “Men are not women” and “Since the circumference of a circle equals twice the radius multiplied by π (2πr), it equals the diameter multiplied by π (πd).” Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for truism
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • This sounds like a truism, but it has comforted me before now, and some day you'll find it useful.

    Wives and Daughters Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell
  • From the swing at golf to the manner of lighting a match in the wind, this truism applies.

    The Forest Stewart Edward White
  • This is a truism, but the lack of confidence is not without reason and cause.

    The Principles of Economics Frank A. Fetter
  • After seeming to hover for a time on the verge of a great truth, we have gained only a truism.

    Philebus Plato
  • “Like produces like” is a truism often quoted, but there are exceptions, and Boston terrier breeding furnishes an important one.

British Dictionary definitions for truism


an obvious truth; platitude
Derived Forms
truistic, adjective
Word Origin
C18: from true + -ism
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for truism

1708, from true + -ism; first attested in Swift.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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