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Types of Lies People Tell

Updated on October 27, 2019
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Margaret Minnicks, an ordained minister and Bible teacher, is used to giving advice about life.

Lying is the act of speaking or writing something that is not true. In most cases, a lie is told to deceive, mislead, misinform or to impress in some way. The person who tells lies is known as a liar.

Alphabetical List of Terms for Lies

A barefaced, or bald-faced lie, is one that people make with the specific purpose to deceive hearers.

A big lie is one that attempts to trick people into believing something major. It is an untruth on such a grand scale that it is intended to deceive more than one person at a time.

Bluffing is a type of lying a person does to pretend to have a capability or intention that he does not possess. Bluffing is acceptable behavior in poker and other card games. A player deceives other players into thinking he has cards he really doesn't have. In this case, bluffing is acceptable even though it is a lie to deceive. However, it is rarely seen as an immoral act.


Bullshit is actually a type of lie. You might have heard people use the term or other related terms such as just "bull" or "BS." Bullshit does not necessarily mean the speaker has told a lie. The statement could be true or false. It is what the speaker offers to make an impression without caring about the information provided or how it is perceived. Usually, BS is thought to be foolish talk.

A butler lie is one that is told when people want to avoid others. For instance, having your secretary say you are at lunch or in a meeting when you are not is a butler lie. A butler lie is often sent electronically or someone else relays the untruth. The liar doesn't come face-to-face with the recipient of the lie.

A cover-up may be used to deny or defend a lie, errors, or embarrassing actions, that have been made previously.

Defamation is a false statement that harms the reputation of a person, organization, or nation.

Disinformation is deliberately giving false information in a calculated way to deceive target audiences. Only the liar benefits from this encounter.

Exaggeration occurs when a statement is true only to a certain degree. The statement seems to be more powerful than it really is and is not to be taken literally.

Fake news is a type of journalism that consists of deliberate misinformation or hoaxes in the media, including social media. President Donald Trump often refers to something being "fake news."


A fib is a lie about a trivial matter. For instance, a child may tell a fib by claiming he didn't take a cookie from the jar even though there is evidence that he did.

A half-truth is a statement that includes some truth. Half-truths are meant to deceive, blame, or misrepresent the whole truth.

A hyperbole is an exaggerated truth to prove a point. It should not be understood literally. For instance, "I have told you a million times to take the trash out."

The Jocose lie is used in storytelling for the purpose of amusing listeners. The person telling the story should make it clear that it is a story and should not be taken literally because it might damage someone's reputation.

Lying by omission is still lying even though the person tells most of the truth but leaves out key facts. Lying by omission happens when information is not revealed when it should be made known.

Lying in trade occurs when the seller advertises a product or service with false information in order to get many sales. Fortunately, most countries have laws to protect consumers.


Minimization is the opposite of exaggeration. It is deception that occurs when people minimize a situation by leaving out valuable information.

A noble lie, which also could be called a strategic untruth, is one that normally would cause discord if uncovered. A noble lie offers some benefit to the liar. It is often told to maintain law, order, and safety.

Pathological lying is also called compulsive lying. It is the behavior of a person who constantly lies. Pathological lying is a trait of a person who has a lifestyle of lying for no apparent reason. The liar may or may not be aware that he is lying because he has done it so often.

Perjury is the act of making false statements while under oath in a court or within written statements. Perjury is a crime, and the person who commits it could be punished.

A polite lie an untruth to get out of something gracefully. An example involves etiquette when a person declines an invitation and tells a lie to the host by saying he has a scheduling conflict even though he doesn't.

Puffery is an exaggerated claim found in advertising, such as "the best quality in the world" or "experts stand behind this product." These statements might not be true, but they cannot be proven false. Therefore, they do not violate any trade laws.

"Speaking with a forked tongue" is a phrase that describes the speech of a person when he deliberately says one thing and means another. His speech is hypocritical.

Stretching the truth is an exaggeration that occurs when a statement is only partially true, but the speaker makes it appear greater or more meaningful than it really is.

A weasel word is an informal term for words and phrases that give the impression that a vague statement is meaningful. If the statement is challenged, the specific meaning could be denied.

Lies According to Colors

Most people have heard of a white lie. It is described as a minor lie that could be considered harmless because it is told to avoid hurting someone's feelings. Liars claim they tell white lies for the greater good. For instance, if a wife asks her husband, "Does this dress make me look fat?" Even though it does, the husband might say, "No, Dear. You look skinny in that dress."

A black lie is defined as a lie where the liar benefits by deceiving someone.

A blue lie is a combination of a white lie and a black lie. A blue lie is intended to help one group of people while damaging another group through deceit

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