Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2011-03-08
I think both of these get used, with “unvarnished truth” much more popular and of much longer standing, at least according to n-gram. So I’m guessing “ungarnished truth” comes from a reshaping of “unvarnished truth”, although it carries its own logical imagery and there’s nothing particularly incorrect about it.
There could even be a slightly different slant to the two idioms, as I would think “varnished truth” attempts to hide the defects and rough bits, whereas “garnished truth” just tries to pretty up the meat and potatoes of the truth with some flavorful bits and pieces… Not sure I see this difference in normal usage, though.
I see a few references in there to the “plain, unfurnished truth”. So perhaps envisioning the way you can see all the defects in a bare room, when you don’t have curtains, rugs and furniture to cover up and distract? I kind of like it as an eggcorn.
Going one step from the unfurnishing, I see several references to the “unfinished truth” in contexts where the “unvarnished truth” would be appropriate. I suppose varnish is a finishing, so perhaps that’s the connection.
But then you get quotes like this where there seems to be a connection to the lack of completion: