40 Synonyms for “Lie”

By Mark Nichol

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Humans may not be the only species capable of deception, but we’re probably the most sophisticated animals when it comes to lying, and our languages contain many words to describe variations of untruth. Here’s a roster of synonyms in English for referring to lies and similar creations:

1. Bluff: a statement intended to deceive or confuse
2. Canard: an unsubstantiated story or report
3. Deceit: a deceptive statement
4. Deception: A statement or action intended to mislead
5. Distortion: a deviation from the true meaning, or an overstatement of proportion
6. Equivocation: a misleading or confusing statement based on the possibility of differing interpretations
7. Exaggeration: an overstatement or overemphasis
8. Fable: a fictitious statement or story, in the sense of something made up to explain or justify an unmerited action or state of affairs
9. Fabrication: a made-up fact or incident
10. Fairy tale: a misleading story, especially a simplistic one that would not be expected to deceive anyone
11. Fallacy: a deceptive or erroneous statement; also, a false idea or a flawed argument
12. Falsehood: something untrue or inaccurate
13. Falsification: an alteration of facts in order to deceive
14. Falsity (see falsehood)
15. Fib: a simple, perhaps transparent lie
16. Fiction: an invented statement or story
17. Half-truth: a statement with some basis in truth that nevertheless serves to deceive
18. Humbug: a false, deceptive, or nonsensical statement
19. Invention: a statement crafted to deceive
20. Jive: a deceptive, insincere, or nonsensical statement
21. Libel: a written or similarly presented lie that defames a person
23. Mendacity: an act of lying
23. Misconception: a poor understanding, perhaps deliberate, of a fact
24. Misinformation: a purported fact presented with the intent to deceive
25. Misinterpretation: a deviation from the facts or from a reasonable analysis of them
26. Misreport: an inaccurate account
27. Misrepresentation: an erroneous or unfair interpretation of facts
28. Misstatement: an inaccurate or erroneous comment
29. Myth: a perpetuated notion, belief, or tradition that is suspect or unfounded
30. Obliquity: a deviation from the truth to obscure or confuse
31. Perjury: a lie presented under oath
32. Pose: a false or deceptive position or self-representation
33. Pretense: an unsupported claim, an insincere purpose or intention, or a superficial effort
34. Prevarication: a deviation from the truth
35. Slander: an injuriously false statement about a person
36. Story: a lie, or a rumor
37. Tale: a false representation
38. Taradiddle: nonsense (also, see fib)
39. Untruth: a deviation from truth or the facts
40. Whopper: an outsized lie

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5 Responses to “40 Synonyms for “Lie””

  • Cliff Wilkinson

    Here is a word to add to your list: calumny. According to dictionary.com, it means “a false and malicious statement designed to injure the reputation of someone or something.”

  • Deborah H

    I love these lists!

  • Mark MacKay


  • Todd

    If the number of words with shades of meaning on a given concept is a measure of the importance of that concept in our society, then we are, basically, a bunch of liars.

    Interesting. I’ll bet there are not nearly so many words depicting explicit variations of truth. That is, if you don’t count those words where truthfulness is assumed (or implicit). For instance, the word “account” comes to mind. We generally assume an account (in all it’s various usages) is a representation of the truth or a representation of fact. However, we all know that mistakes and misrepresentations occur frequently in accounts of various types (like an eyewitness account?). Wow, I’ve talked myself into a circle. Truth is even harder to pin down in language than a lie. 😉

  • Jeffrey Levine

    Interesting perspective, Todd, but I think there’s a good explanation for it. The concept of truth–both in science and in everyday usage–is that there is a single, external, objective reality that we all share. Sounds good in theory, but it’s difficult to apply in practice. I describe it as being more of a “direction” than a “destination”. We can never get all the way there.
    The goal of science is to provide as full and accurate a description of objective reality as possible… but we can NEVER get all the way there1 There are simply too many “details” in the system for us to be aware of, or process all of them. Instead, our sensory system and brain provides us with an approximation of objective reality, and in most circumstances, this will have to serve.
    There are two broad sets of limitations that account for “bias” (which I define as a systematic discrepancy between our beliefs (what we hold to be true) and reality (what actually IS true): 1) limitations and biases imposed by our acquisition and processing of information, and 2) biases imposed by false heuristics, beliefs, values, and motivations. We are not always conscious of these, so not all such biases represent conscious “lies”.
    The point is that whereas there is only one “truth”, there’s LOTS of room for inaccurate or incomplete representations of truth, which MIGHT account for all the subtle (or not-so-subtle) variations in the concept of lying.

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