I have seen a definition of the word fact that is very condrictory. It is that a fact can be both true and false. This definition is nearly 300 years old. My question is if this definition is only applicable to law and if it is a current accepted definition. If not what is the current definition of the word fact?


  • I'm not sure where you got your information from, but I would doubt its authenticity. The Oxford Dictionary of English gives the current usage definition as "A thing known or proved to be true" which seems like a straightforwadrly acceptable definition. Meanwhile the historical record in the Oxford English Dictionary gives several earlier senses relating to actions (both positive and negative) but not to actual falsehoods, quite the opposite.

    If you want to start playing with semantics, facts can often be misleading or fraudulently deployed, but the meaning of the word remains the same i.e. something which is demonstrably true. For example, if I wanted to argue in favour of a geocentric universe (where the sun, the planets, and the stars all orbit the Earth), I could cite the fact that it is possible to trace the path of those astronomical bodies across the sky; that is a fact: it is demonstrably true. However, it gives a misleading impression of the structure of the Universe, the Milky Way, and the Solar System.

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