Is "known" a correct word choice in the following?

It has long been known that Fruit A contains an enormous amount of vitamin C. However, recent research has disproved this conventional wisdom.

By describing something as "known," the speaker is committed to its truth. By saying it has been "disproved," the speaker is committed to its non-truth. To acknowledge something is a truth and has been disproved is a gross incompatibility in the speaker's belief, isn't it?

I'd appreciate your help.

  • 1
    Yes, it's fine. Is there some reason why you thought it wasn't fine?
    – Andrew
    Jul 7, 2018 at 1:24
  • From a common use and English perspective, yes. From a philosophical perspective, perhaps not. Are you arguing that it's not possible to know something if it's actually false? ("I know it's this way." something disproves it "Oh, I guess I didn't know that after all.") But then what's the status of anything being known—assuming it could be disproved? That's an interesting discussion, but it belongs at philosophy.stackexchange.com . . . Jul 7, 2018 at 1:27
  • @JasonBassford By describing something as "known," isn't the speaker committed to its truth? If it is a truth, how can it be disproved at all? To claim something is a truth and has been disproved is a gross incompatibility on the speaker's part, isn't it?
    – Apollyon
    Jul 7, 2018 at 1:35
  • 1
    You can assert that known isn't the correct word here because of this. In which case, you're likely looking for believed. (But it's grammatical, and it arguably is correct, depending on your philosophical viewpoint.) Jul 7, 2018 at 1:45
  • 1
    @Apollyon - Why are you adding all these details as comments? Why not add them into your question, and transform your cursory, hasty question into one that is rich in detail and well thought out? You've been an active member of this community for over four years now, long enough to know how much we appreciate detailed questions: Remember to make an effort to research your question before posting it, and be sure to add as much detail as you can when explaining your problem. The more you can tell us, the better answers you'll receive!
    – J.R.
    Jul 7, 2018 at 10:41

1 Answer 1


I think the problem becomes clearer when you use the simple past. The present perfect softens the problem a little.

It was long known that the world was flat.

You could put known in quotation marks to indicate irony or sarcasm:

It was long "known" that the world was flat.

But in normal expository prose without irony it would be:

It was long believed that the world was flat.

It had long been thought that the world was flat.

It had long been held that the world was flat.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .