From LitWiki

Verisimilitude is a philosophical concept that refers to characters or events in a story that appears to be life-like, or believable. This concept is achieved by a writer, or storyteller, when he presents striking details which lend an air of authenticity to a tale (Beckson)[1].

Verisimilitude (Example)

An example of the term, verisimilitude, would be if an author writes about a man who falls off a cliff and he dies, it is believable. It is logical that a person can believe an event or character in a fiction story is real so, a story can have a degree of verisimilitude in fiction stories as well as non-fiction stories, as long as the reader feels that it is real (Wheeler)[2]. Fantasy novels and science fiction stories that discuss impossible events can have verisimilitude if the reader is able to read them with suspended disbelief (Eagleton)[3]. To say that a work has a high degree of verisimilitude means that the work is very realistic and believable--it is "true to life" (Harris)[4].

The Problem With Verisimilitude

While verisimilitude is considered of a method of making an event or set of circumstances believable, with some magnification, there is a problem with the theory behind verisimilitude. The reader or viewer is given a set of circumstances that are plausible in that particular universe. The argument is that one false theory may be closer to reality than another. Karl Popper, famous for theories on verisimilitude, asks two important questions;

"Can we explain how one theory can be closer to the truth, or has greater verisimilitude than another?"

"Can we show that scientific change has sometimes led to theories which are closer to the truth than their predecessors?"[5]

This question brings light to the reality of evolving scientific knowledge and truth. What may not be true today, may become a reality in the future.

Works Cited

  • Cuddon, J.A. "Verisimilitude." The Penguin Dictionary Of Literary Terms and Literary Theory fourth edition. 1976,1977,1979,1991,1998.
  • Cuddon, J.A. Penguin Books, London. "Verisimilitude." Bibliography: A Dictionary of Literary Terms, 1977 [1]
  • Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. "Verisimilitude." Merriam-Webster's Encylopedia of Literature 1995
  • Mifflin, Houghton. "Verisimilitude." Webster’s II New College Dictionary. 2001,1999,1995



  1. 1.0 1.1 Beckson, Karl and Arthur Ganz. "Verisimiltude." Literary Terms: A Dictionary. 1975 [2]
  2. 2.0 2.1 Dr. L. Wheeler, Kip. "Verisimilitude." Literary Terms and Definitions:V. 1998-2003. <>
  3. 3.0 3.1 Eagleton, Terry. "Verisimiltude." Literary Theory: An Introduction. 1983 [3]
  4. 4.0 4.1 Harris, Robert. "Verisimilitude." A Glossary of Literary Terms. 22May1997.[4]