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Lying is the act of making a statement that the speaker knows to be untrue. It is a form of dishonesty.


  • And, after all, what is a lie? 'Tis but
    The truth in masquerade.
  • I tell him, if a clergyman, he lies!
    If captains the remark, or critics, make,
    Why they lie also—under a mistake.
  • Resolved to die in the last dyke of prevarication.
    • Edmund Burke, Impeachment of Warren Hastings (May 7, 1789).
  • Quoth Hudibras, I smell a rat;
    Ralpho, thou dost prevaricate.
  • There's times to be real, and there's times to be phony. That's right, I said it, phony! You think I'm this nice in real life? Fuck that, son! That's just 'cause I'm on TV. I'd pull my balls out right now... skeet skeet skeet skeet!
  • To lie is so vile, that even if it were in speaking well of godly things it would take off something from God's grace; and Truth is so excellent, that if it praises but small things they become noble.
    • Leonardo da Vinci, The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci (1938), XIX Philosophical Maxims. Morals. Polemics and Speculations., as translated by Edward MacCurdy.
  • Beyond a doubt truth bears the same relation to falsehood as light to darkness; and this truth is in itself so excellent that, even when it dwells on humble and lowly matters, it is still infinitely above uncertainty and lies, disguised in high and lofty discourses; because in our minds, even if lying should be their fifth element, this does not prevent that the truth of things is the chief nutriment of superior intellects, though not of wandering wits. But you who live in dreams are better pleased by the sophistical reasons and frauds of wits in great and uncertain things, than by those reasons which are certain and natural and not so far above us.
    • Leonardo da Vinci, The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci (1938), XIX Philosophical Maxims. Morals. Polemics and Speculations., as translated by Edward MacCurdy.
  • Fire is to represent truth because it destroys all sophistry and lies; and the mask is for lying and falsehood which conceal truth.
    • Leonardo da Vinci, The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci (1938), X Studies and Sketches for Pictures and Decorations, as translated by Edward MacCurdy.
  • Aang: Where is he?! Where's the Fire Lord?!
Azula: Hmm. You mean I'm not good enough for you? You're hurting my feelings.
Sokka: Stop wasting our time and give us the information! You're powerless, so you're in no position to refuse.
Toph: And stick to the truth. I'll be able to tell if you're lying.
Azula: Are you sure? I'm a pretty good liar. I am a 400 foot tall purple platypus-bear with pink horns and silver wings.


Toph: Okay, you're good, I admit it. (bends the earth underneath Azula so that it encases her is a conical shape) But you really ought to consider telling the truth anyway.
  • Half the world knows not how the other half lies.
  • Show me a liar, and I will show thee a thief.
  • Children and fooles can not ly.
  • L: There are…many types of monsters in this world: Monsters who will not show themselves and who cause trouble; monsters who abduct children; monsters who devour dreams; monsters who suck blood, and... monsters who always tell lies. Lying monsters are a real nuisance. They are much more cunning than other monsters. They pose as humans even though they have no understanding of the human heart. They eat even though they've never experienced hunger. They study even though they have no interest in academics. They seek friendship even though they do not know how to love. If I were to encounter such a monster, I would likely be eaten by it. Because in truth, I am that monster.
    • Death Note: Relight 2: L's Successors, written by Toshiki Inoue
  • Drummond: All shine, and no substance! Bert, whenever you see something bright, shining, perfect-seeming—all gold, with purple spots—look behind the paint! And if it’s a lie—show it up for what it really is!
  • A motion picture must be true to life. If a picture portrays a false emotion a false emotion it trains people seeing it to react abnormally.
  • In the majority of cases which are brought to me as a consulting psychologist for love and marital adjustment, there are self-deceptions to be uncovered as well as attempts to deceive other people. Beneath such love conflicts there is almost always a festering psychological core of dishonesty.
  • My body aches from mistakes betrayed by lust
    We lied to each other so much that in nothing we trust.
    • Trust, from the album Cryptic Writings by Megadeth, written by Dave Mustaine and Marty Friedman
  • Mello: The murder notebook. It's a Shinigami's notebook, and people who touch it are able to see the Shinigami.
Rester: I-impossible.
Gevanni: Who's going to believe that? A Shinigami...?
Near: [pauses] I believe him. What advantage is there for Mello in coming up with such a stupid story about a Shinigami really existing? If he were telling a lie, he would tell me a normal — more meaningful — lie. Therefore, the Shinigami exists.
  • False words are not only evil in themselves, but they infect the soul with evil.
    • Plato, Phaedes 91
  • Judas: I remember when this whole thing began
    No talk of God then, we called you a man
    And believe me, my admiration for you hasn't died.
    But every word you say today
    Gets twisted round some other way
    And they'll hurt if they think you've lied.
  • To lapse in fulness
    Is sorer than to lie for need, and falsehood
    Is worse in kings than beggars.
  • Lord, Lord, how this world is given to lying! I grant you I was down and out of breath; and so was he: but we rose both at an instant and fought a long hour by Shrewsbury clock.
  • Whose tongue soe'er speaks false,
    Not truly speaks; who speaks not truly, lies.
  • An evil soul producing holy witness
    Is like a villain with a smiling cheek;
    A goodly apple rotten at the heart:
    O, what a goodly outside falsehood hath!
  • Hiko Seijuro: Murder is the only art a swordsman may practice. No ornamental words can change that. You want to protect people with murder? You’ll slaughter legions so that a few may live. Many years, long before you were born, my sword was tearing asunder the lives of men. Yes, all of those men were evil, but they were human beings first and foremost, Kenshin. The world you ardently desire to enter will not know what to do with you. It will deceive you into believing that you are saving lives even as you destroy them. You will accept these lies all the while, your hands will be stained with the worst of offenses.
    • Samurai X: Trust & Betrayal, written by Masashi Sogo
  • It is better to be poor and walk in integrity than to be stupid and speak lies.
  • I mean you lie—under a mistake.
    • Jonathan Swift, Polite Conversation (c. 1738), Dialogue 1. Same phrase used by De Quincey, Southey, Landor.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations[edit]

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 485-87.
  • A giurar presti i mentitor son sempre.
  • Se non volea pulir sua scusa tanto,
    Che la facesse di menzogna rea.
    • But that he wrought so high the specious tale,
      As manifested plainly 'twas a lie.
    • Ludovico Ariosto, Orlando Furioso (1516), XVIII. 84.
  • And none speaks false, when there is none to hear.
  • You lie—under a mistake—
    For this is the most civil sort of lie
    That can be given to a man's face, I now
    Say what I think.
    • Calderon, El Magico Prodigioso, scene 1. Translation by Shelley.
  • Ita enim finitima sunt falsa veris ut in præcipitem locum non debeat se sapiens committere.
    • So near is falsehood to truth that a wise man would do well not to trust himself on the narrow edge.
    • Cicero, Academici, IV. 21.
  • Mendaci homini ne verum quidem dicenti credere solemus.
    • A liar is not believed even though he tell the truth.
    • Cicero, De Divinatione, II. 71. Same idea in Phædrusm Fables, I, 10, 1.
  • The silent colossal National Lie that is the support and confederate of all the tyrannies and shams and inequalities and unfairnesses that afflict the peoples—that is the one to throw bricks and sermons at.
  • An experienced, industrious, ambitious, and often quite picturesque liar.
  • Un menteur est toujours prodigue de serments.
  • Il faut bonne mémoire après qu'on a menti.
    • A good memory is needed once we have lied.
    • Pierre Corneille, Le Menteur, IV. 5.
  • Some truth there was, but dash'd and brew'd with lies,
    To please the fools, and puzzle all the wise.
  • Wenn ich irre kann es jeder bemerken; wenn ich lüge, nicht.
  • As ten millions of circles can never make a square, so the united voice of myriads cannot lend the smallest foundation to falsehood.
  • Dare to be true: nothing can need a lie;
    A fault which needs it most, grows two thereby.
  • Sin has many tools, but a lie is the handle which fits them all.
  • Who dares think one thing, and another tell,
    My heart detests him as the gates of hell.
    • Homer, The Iliad, Book IX, line 412. Pope's translation.
  • Urge him with truth to frame his fair replies;
    And sure he will; for wisdom never lies.
    • Homer, The Odyssey, Book III, line 25. Pope's translation.
  • For my part getting up seems not so easy
    By half as lying.
  • Splendide mendax.
    • Splendidly mendacious.
    • Horace, Carmina, III. 11. 35.
  • Round numbers are always false.
    • Samuel Johnson, Johnsoniana; Apothegms, Sentiment, etc. From Hawkins' Collective Edition.
  • Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus.
    • False in one thing, false in everything.
    • Law Maxim.
  • Qui ne sent point assez ferme de memoire, ne se doit pas mêler d'être menteur.
    • Who is not sure of his memory should not attempt lying.
    • Michel de Montaigne, Of Liars, Book I, Chapter IX.
  • Hercle audivi esse optimum mendacium.
    Quicquid dei dicunt, id rectum est dicere.
    • By Hercules! I have often heard that your piping-hot lie is the best of lies: what the gods dictate, that is right.
    • Plautus, Mostellaria, III. 1. 134.
  • Playing the Cretan with the Cretans (i.e. lying to liars).
    • Plutarch, quoting a Greek proverb used by Paulus Æmilius.
  • Some lie beneath the churchyard stone,
    And some before the Speaker.
  • I said in my haste, All men are liars.
    • Psalms. CXVI. 11.
  • The Book of Daniel is especially fitted to be a battle-ground between faith and unbelief. It admits of no half-way measures. It is either divine or an imposture. The writer, were he not Daniel, must have lied on a most frightful scale.
  • Mendacem memorem esse oportet.
    • It is fitting that a liar should be a man of good memory.
    • Quintilian, IV. 2. 91.
  • Ce mensonge immortel.
    • That immortal lie.
    • Rev. Père de Ravignan. Found in Poujoulat's Sa Vie, ses Œuvres.
  • This shows that liars ought to have good memories.
  • A lie never lives to be old.
  • That a lie which is half a truth is ever the blackest of lies;
    That a lie which is all a lie may be met and fought with outright—
    But a lie which is part a truth is a harder matter to fight.
  • And he that does one fault at first,
    And lies to hide it, makes it two.
  • An animal may be cunning and ferocious enough, but it takes a real man to tell a lie.
  • I give him joy that's awkward at a lie.
    • Edward Young, Night Thoughts (1742-1745), Night VIII, line 361.

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