adj. tru·er, tru·est
a. Consistent with fact or reality; not false or erroneous: the true cost. See Synonyms at real1. See Usage Note at fact.
b. Not counterfeit; real or genuine: true gold. See Synonyms at authentic.
c. Conforming to the characteristics or criteria of a group or type; typical: a true crab; a true gentleman.
d. Properly called: true value.
2. Reliable; accurate: a true prophecy.
a. Faithful, as to a friend, vow, or cause; loyal. See Synonyms at faithful.
b. Archaic Truthful, honest, or trustworthy.
4. Sincerely felt or expressed; unfeigned: true grief.
5. Rightful; legitimate: the true heir.
a. Exactly conforming to a rule, standard, or pattern: trying to sing true B.
b. Accurately shaped, fitted, or placed: Are the wheels true?
c. Determined with reference to the earth's axis, not the magnetic poles: true north.
7. Quick and exact in sensing and responding: a true ear.
8. Computers Indicating one of two possible values taken by a variable in Boolean logic or a binary device.
1. In accord with reality, fact, or truthfulness.
2. Unswervingly; exactly: The archer aimed true.
3. So as to conform to a type, standard, or pattern.
tr.v. trued, tru·ing or true·ing, trues
To position (something) so as to make it balanced, level, or square: trued up the long planks.
1. Truth or reality. Used with the.
2. Proper alignment or adjustment: out of true.
[Middle English trewe, from Old English trēowe, firm, trustworthy; see deru- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
Word History: The words true and tree are joined at the root, etymologically speaking. In Old English, the words looked and sounded much more alike than they do now: "tree" was trēow and "true" was trēowe. The first of these comes from the Germanic noun *trewam; the second, from the adjective *treuwaz. Both these Germanic words ultimately go back to an Indo-European root *deru- or *dreu-, appearing in derivatives referring to wood and, by extension, firmness. Truth may be thought of as something firm; so too can certain bonds between people, like trust, another derivative of the same root. A slightly different form of the root, *dru-, appears in the word druid, a type of ancient Celtic priest; his name is etymologically *dru-wid-, or "strong seer."
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.