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men•dac•i•ty(mɛnˈdæs ɪ ti)
n., pl. -ties.
2. a lie or untruth. — mendacious, adj.
Baron Münchhausen A teller of tall tales; one who embellishes and exaggerates to the point of falsehood; a creator of whoppers; a liar. Baron von Münchhausen (1720-97), a German who served in the Russian army, gained renown as a teller of adventurous war stories. These were collected by Rudolph Erich Raspe and published in 1785 as Baron Münchhausen ‘s Narrative of His Marvelous Travels and Campaigns in Russia. His name has since become synonymous with tall tales and untruths, whether their intent be to entertain or to deceive.
cry wolf To give a false alarm; to use a trick or other deceitful stratagem to provoke a desired response. This well-known expression alludes to the equally well-known fable about a shepherd lad who often cried “wolf to get the attention of his neighbors. When they finally grew wise to his trick, a real wolf appeared and the boy cried “wolf,” to no avail—no one heeded his call. OED citations date the phrase from the late 17th century.
She begins to suspect she is “not so young as she used to be”; that after crying “Wolf” ever since the respectable maturity of seventeen—… the grim wolf, old age, is actually showing his teeth in the distance. (Mrs. Dinah M. Craik, A Woman’s Thoughts About Women, 1858)
Equivalent expressions and fables appear in many nations throughout the world.
draw the long bow See EXAGGERATION.
from the teeth outward To say but not mean; to speak insincerely. This archaic phrase implies that vocal protestations of friendship, trust, etc., are often of questionable value after their utterance.
Many of them like us but from the teeth outward. (John Udall, Diotrephes, 1588)
Lamourette’s kiss See AGREEMENT.
lie through one’s teeth To purposely tell flagrant and obvious falsehoods; to speak maliciously and untruthfully; to prevaricate with blatant disregard for the truth. The use of teeth in this expression serves to underscore the severity of the lie or lies. Variations include lie in one’s teeth, lie in one’s throat, and lie in one’s beard.
out of whole cloth False, fictitious, fabricated, made-up; also cut out of whole cloth.
Absolutely untruthful telegrams were manufactured out of “whole cloth.” (The Fortnightly Review, July, 1897)
The origin of this expression is rather puzzling in that literal whole cloth (i.e., a piece of cloth of the full size as manufactured, as opposed to a piece cut off or out of it for a garment) seems to lend itself to positive figurative senses rather than negative ones. It has been conjectured that the change in meaning came about because of widespread cheating on the part of tailors who claimed to be using whole cloth but who actually used pieced goods, or cloth stretched to appear to be of full width. Thus, ironic use of the phrase may have given rise to the reversal in meaning. On the other hand, it may come from the sense of ‘having been made from scratch,’ that is, ‘entirely made up’ or ‘fabricated.’ The expression dates from the late 16th century.
snow job An attempt to deceive or persuade, usually by means of insincere, exaggerated, or false claims; a line, particularly one used to impress a member of the opposite sex or a business associate; excessive flattery; a cover-up. Snow, especially in large amounts, tends to obscure one’s vision and mask the true nature or appearance of objects on which it falls; thus, the expression’s figurative implications.
a white lie A harmless or innocent fib; a minor falsehood that is pardonable because it is motivated by politeness, friendship, or other praiseworthy concern. This expression draws on the symbolism often associated with the color “white” (purity, harmlessness, freedom from malice). An interesting definition of white lie was offered in a 1741 issue of Gentleman’s Magazine:
A certain lady of the highest quality … makes a judicious distinction between a white lie and a black lie. A white lie is that which is not intended to injure anybody in his fortune, interest, or reputation but only to gratify a garrulous disposition and the itch of amusing people by telling them wonderful stories.
William Paley, on the other hand, presents a different view:
White lies always introduce others of a darker complexion. (The Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy, 1785)
window dressing Misrepresentation or deceptive presentation of facts, particularly those relating to financial matters, to give a false or exaggerated impression of success or prosperity. Literally, window dressing is a technique of attractively displaying goods in a store window. The expression is figuratively applied to any specious display, but is used most often in contexts implying financial juggling which borders on the illegal, usually obeying the letter, though certainly not the spirit, of the law.
The promise of high duties against other countries deceives nobody: it is only political window-dressing. (Westminster Gazette, March 9, 1909)
|Noun||1.||mendacity - the tendency to be untruthful |
untruthfulness - the quality of being untruthful
veracity - unwillingness to tell lies