To Trust or Not to Trust: Are you trusted, trusty, trustful, or trustworthy?

Blackmatta asked (requested) me to discuss the differences between these four words:

  1. trusted
  2. trusty
  3. trustful
  4. trustworthy

Hm, I’ll do my best to keep it ‘short and easy’ (she also asked that).

These are all very similar but I will try to explain how I think they are commonly used.

Trusted

(past participle or adjective)

Arnold: Can he be trusted to do this task for us? (Passive voice)

Bob: Well, he is a trusted friend of mine. (adjective)

Charlie: I trusted him with an important task last year and he didn’t disappoint me. (active voice)

Trusty

(adjective)

This word is used informally, affectionately, and sometimes jokingly to refer to something that you like a lot because it has never failed you. My trusty car always gets me to my destination!

Girlfriend: Help, help, I’m a damsel in distress! (acting silly with her boyfriend)

Boyfriend: Don’t worry, fair maiden! I will use my trusty sword to slay the dragon and keep you safe! (He’s killed many ‘dragons’ with that ‘sword’.)

Cultural note: If you know the famous duo, the Lone Ranger and his Indian friend Tonto, from an old American western TV series, Tonto always called the Lone Ranger “Kemo Sabe”. Someone once asked him what that meant. He said it meant “Trusty Scout”.

Trustful

(adjective)

I don’t hear this word used much. It literally means “full of trust”. If you are trustful, then you trust other people, even strangers. Trustful people are often gullible. Don’t be too trustful of strangers. (Usually, we say “Don’t be too trusting of others.”)

Trustworthy

(adjective)

This means dependable or reliable (worthy or deserving of other people’s trust). He is very trustworthy. If he says he didn’t do it, then I believe him.

Arnold: Is your friend trustworthy?

Bob: My trusty friend has never failed me yet, so I would say, yes, he is very trustworthy.

This way of thinking may help you differentiate between these words:

  • If we are trustful (or trusting), then we trust others.
    (We are full of trust for others.)
  • If we are trusted, then others trust us.
  • If we are trustworthy, then others should be able to trust us.
    (We are worthy of their trust.)
  • If we are trusty, then that means we have a good friend who thinks of us affectionately as very reliable and HE calls US his trusty friends. Otherwise, we cannot be trusty outside of this context. (Strong affection is implied in this word).

    Cultural note: Americans often add an “ee” sound at the end of a word (as -y or -ie) to add affection. Many times this is done when addressing children but it also applies to close friends. Some examples: Lad => laddie; lass => lassie; son => sonny; dad => daddy; mom => mommy; Pete = Petey; George => Georgie; Joanna => Joannie; sweetheart => sweetie; John => Johnny; bud => buddy. This insight may help you remember how trusty is used.)

Test Your Understanding: (Each word is used twice in these sentences.)

  1. A _____ person can be depended upon to do the right thing.
  2. Just when I _____ him the most, he turned around and betrayed me.
  3. I wrote him a nasty letter using my _____ pen that you gave me for Christmas last year.
  4. She is too _____ of young handsome men. She has had her heart broken so many times that I have lost count.
  5. I don’t believe that salesman to be _____. He is just looking to make a buck off of unsuspecting buyers. (get you to spend your money for his benefit)
  6. I’ve had my _____ coffee cup for over three years. I’ve dropped it at least five times, but it has never broken.
  7. It’s polite to be _____ of others. Just be careful or they’ll take advantage of you.
    (use you unfairly to their benefit)
  8. I don’t believe that salesman can be _____. He looks shifty to me.

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