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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.
  • Half the world knows not how the other half lies.
  • Show me a liar, and I will show thee a thief.
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • I give him joy that's awkward at a lie.
    • Edward Young, Night Thoughts (1742-1745), Night VIII, line 361.

External links[edit]

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