Steven Colbert either coined the term TRUTHINESS or is most responsible for its popularization. He introduced it as his ‘word of the day’ in the first episode of his show THE COLBERT REPORT in October and the concept of ‘feeling the truth’ caught on. By the end of the year, the American Linguists Society, which defined the word as:
‘the quality of preferring concepts or facts one wishes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true,’
to be the Word of the Year.
According to the latest polls, 44% of Americans don’t get this joke yet.
While Colbert has received general attribution for popularizing the term, when the AP didn’t, Colbert took them to task, announcing them to be the greatest threat to America, displacing bears from that position.
The commercialization has begun. TRUTHINESS t-shirts are available on Cafe Press. The domain name TRUTHINESS.COM has been registered. However, there’s nothing on TESS yet.
Colbert is right to protect his claim. For now, he has a plausible argument that the term is part of his ‘persona’, in the way in which HERE’S JOHNNY was a protectable part of Johnny Carson’s persona. And he should file an application.
Good introduction to Right of Publicity here.