Have you ever been speaking to someone and said something they agree with? Most of the time, people will just say, “I agree”. But sometimes, they’ll be a little more creative. Today, I want to look at the phrase “truer words have never been spoken”. I want to explore what it means, whether it makes sense, and look at a few examples.
“Truer words have never been spoken” meaning
“Truer words have never been spoken” (sometimes “truer words were never spoken”) is another way of saying “that is extremely true”. What has just been said is so true that nothing said before was more true.
“Truer words have never been spoken” Origin
The phrase was initially coined by a politician. But I’m afraid it wasn’t a great American President or even a Prime Minister. It was said by M.E Grant Duffy, an MP from England.
He was an expert in Foreign policy and participating in a debate on overlapping British and Russian interests in Asia. When one MP spoke of concerns over an armed conflict between the UK and Russia, Duff agreed with him, which is where he uttered the famous line “truer words have never been spoken”.
This was all the way back in 1878, so it wouldn’t have been too long after the American Civil War.
“Truer words have never been spoken” or “More true words have never been spoken”?
The answer is “Truer”. But why is this? What are the rules?
Here are 4 simples rules to help you understand your “more”s from your “er”s.
- If the adjective is one syllable, you will add an “er”. Such as “hotter” and “colder”.
- If the adjective is 2 syllables and doesn’t end in a y, add “more” before it. “More timid”.
- If the adjective is 3 or more syllables, always add “more” before it. “More Dangerous”.
- And finally, if the adjective is 2 syllables but ends in y, replace the y with “ier”. “Scarier”.
What does “truer” mean?
Firstly though, let’s address that elephant in the room. “truer” is a bit of a nonsense word, is it not?
How can something be more true than something else? Surely everything is either true, false, or opinion?
For example, the phrases “1+1=2” and “The sky is blue” are both true. Neither one of them is more true than the other. Therefore, no phrase can be “more true” than any other phrase. It can either be “true”, “not true”, or “just an opinion”.
Although perhaps I am looking into it too much. “Truer words have never been spoken” is about getting the point across, not a statement to be taken at face value.
“Truer words have never been spoken” or “Truer words have never been said”?
Another alternative to “truer words have never been spoken” is “truer words have never been said”. But have you ever wondered what the difference between “spoken” and “said” is?
“Spoken” is an adjective- a descriptive word. Used to describe the words themselves as being in a state of having been said.
“Said” is a verb- a doing word. Used to refer to the action of talking.
Because of the definitions of both “said” and “spoken”, they are interchangeable in the phrase “truer words have never been x”, and it will not alter the meaning.
When you may use “Truer words have never been spoken”
Most of the time, when someone says something you agree with, you’ll just say, “I agree”. But are there any situations where you might say, “truer words have never been spoken”?
The first one that pops into my mind is when writing fiction. When writing genres such as fantasy, characters tend to use more bombastic language. You may also use it when you wish to come across as better educated than you actually are.
Or, if someone says something that you super-strongly agree with, it could be justifiable to use the phrase “truer words have never been spoken”.
3 Examples of “Truer words have never been spoken” in a sentence
“”I can’t say I’ll ever be the big adventurer you are, but this helped me realize I’ve been hiding too long. Life’s too short.” His hand tightened over hers. “Truer words have never been spoken.”
“And because we had people in our tribe that had prophesied that there would come a people from beneath the world to take our world away . If you think about it and look back , truer words have never been spoken”.
“It is said that truer words have never been spoken, Then those who’s special token… Remains unbroken by time. Words whose very utterance, Sets a heart to soar, On the puffy whites… Of Spring and Autumn clouds. Words that join and keep”.
Alternatives to “Truer words have never been spoken”
The most common alternative to “truer words have never been spoken” would be something along the lines of “I agree” or even “100%”. But there are plenty of more creative ways to show agreement.
“You’ve hit the nail on the head”.
“Our thoughts are parallel”.
“You’ve read my mind”.
“Great minds think alike”.
“My thoughts exactly”.
“I would like to echo what you’ve just said”.
And I’m sure many of you can think of even better ways of paraphrasing “truer words have never been spoken”.
Why don’t people say “Truer words have never been spoken” anymore?
These days, it’s unlikely you’ll hear too many people saying, “truer words have never been spoken”. This is most likely because it sounds overly posh and pompous. The purpose of language is to get across our point in the most effective way possible.
Indeed, it will be better to just say “I agree”, as that is straight to the point?
But you could also argue that using stronger, metaphorical language can convey messages that speaking literally can’t. And even if it is “posh and pompous”, what’s wrong with that?
“Truer words have never been spoken” is an excellent response to when something is super accurate. Because of grammar rules, the correct term is “truer”, not “more true”.
Said originally by M.E. Grant Duff MP, it has become one of those idioms that almost every English person will be aware of. Even though you could argue it’s a bit of a nonsense phrase, it conveys a message of such strong agreement, showing the extent to which the thing we are agreeing with is true to us. Whether or not we start using it again might not matter. But learning about these kinds of phrases helps us to get a better grip of our own language.