Difference between revisions of "Credible - credulous"

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You may also want to see AWE's article on [[Credible - creditable|Credible and creditable]].
 
You may also want to see AWE's article on [[Credible - creditable|Credible and creditable]].
  
::'''''[[etymology|Etymological]] note''''': '''[in]credulous''' is not formed with the [[diminutive]] [[suffix]] [[-cule]]: it comes from a [[Latin]] [[adjective]] ''credulus'', with the same meaning
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::'''''[[etymology|Etymological]] note''''': the [[etymological root|root]] of both '''''credible''''' (and '''''incredible''''') and '''''credulous''''' (and '''''incredulous''''') is the [[Latin]] [[verb]] ''crēdere'', 'to believe'. '''[In]credulous''' is not formed with the [[diminutive]] [[suffix]] [[-cule]]: it comes from a [[Latin]] [[adjective]] ''credulus'', with the same meaning.
  
 
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Latest revision as of 21:17, 11 September 2019

These two words come from the same root, meaning 'belief'. They are sometimes confused.

  • credible means 'easy to be believed' (and its opposite, incredible, means the opposite - 'impossible to be believed'). "The theory," we might say, "is quite credible" - in other words, we think that we can believe in this theory; or that the con-man's story is "quite incredible" - i.e. that we can't believe it.
  • credulous means 'believing something too easily.' A con-man's victim might have been taken in because the victim was 'a credulous fool'. incredulous is an adjective used to describe the person, or temporary attitude, that is expressed in the phrase "I don't believe it!"

To compare the two usages in context, credible is a kind way of talking about an idea. credulous is an unkind thing to say about a person. (It is even less kind to call a person gullible, meaning that he (or she) is easy to deceive.)

The opposites of these words should not be confused any more that the words themselves. On the whole, only people can be incredulous. They cannot believe what they are hearing, or seeing. Ideas, stories etc are incredible - they cannot be believed. In slang, of course, incredible has come to mean 'very good': one may suppose that this is because it is 'too good to be believed'.

You may also want to see AWE's article on Credible and creditable.

Etymological note: the root of both credible (and incredible) and credulous (and incredulous) is the Latin verb crēdere, 'to believe'. [In]credulous is not formed with the diminutive suffix -cule: it comes from a Latin adjective credulus, with the same meaning.