Merriam-Webster.com announced in 2006 that by an overwhelming 5 to 1 majority vote, its visitors had awarded top honors to a word that comedian Stephen Colbert first introduced on "The Word" segment of his debut TV broadcast on Comedy Central back in October 2005.
“As expected, there were a few surprises in store for us as we pored through your submissions for our first Word of the Year online survey…. Soon after, this word was chosen as the 16th annual Word of the Year by the American Dialect Society, and defined by them as "the quality of preferring concepts or facts one wishes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true." ”
'Truthiness' Is Basically a Real Word Now – The AtlanticWire.com:
“This Sunday (October 17, 2010) marks the five-year anniversary of the premiere of The Colbert Report, which means it will also be five years since Stephen Colbert first looked into a camera and intoned the word truthiness." …
Though Colbert says he plucked it out of the air, trying to find "a silly word that would feel wrong in your mouth," the term has since been accepted into the mainstream American lexicon.”
To celebrate the fifth anniversary of Stephen Colbert’s first broadcast, in which he introduced the word “truthiness”, the New York Times linguist, Ben Zimmer, has devoted his October 17 column, “On Language” to Truthiness.
“Truthiness already appeared in the Oxford English Dictionary under the adjective truthy. To be sure, it was exceedingly rare before 2005, but it had been recorded as a somewhat playful variant of truthfulness since the early 19th century.”
But the Oxford English Dictionary described it, prior to 2005, as “rare or dialectical, and to be defined more straightforwardly as truthfulness, faithfulness.”
“Regardless of its pre-Colbert history, truthiness in its satirical new meaning charmed many a wordinista*.
“The enduring influence of truthiness has also been felt at Indiana University, where a team of information scientists has designed software to detect the propagation of political misinformation on Twitter. The project leader, Filippo Menczer, recalled that while the team was brainstorming about a name for the research tool, one of his graduate students suggested Truthy. “Everyone agreed it was perfect,” Menczer said. Contributors are now busy disentangling reliable political Twitter posts from those that are merely truthy.”
Truthiness now appears in the Oxford Dictionary as a legitimate, accepted word, attributed to Colbert.
* Wordinista, meaning “word police”, also appears to have been coined by Colbert, but has not acquired any popular use. To quote Colbert’s first broadcast:
“(...) that brings us to tonight's word: truthiness.
Now I'm sure some of the Word Police, the wordanistas over at Webster's, are gonna say, "Hey, that's not a word." Well, anybody who knows me knows that I'm no fan of dictionaries or reference books. They're elitist. Constantly telling us what is or isn't true, or what did or didn't happen. Who's Britannica to tell me the Panama Canal was finished in 1914? If I wanna say it happened in 1941, that's my right. I don't trust books. They're all fact, no heart. “