- b : an untrue or inaccurate statement that may or may not be believed true by the speaker
2: something that misleads or deceives
A barefaced (or bald-faced) lie is one that is obviously a lie to those hearing it. The phrase comes from 17th-century British usage referring to those without facial hair as being seen as particularly forthright and outwardly honest, and therefore more likely to get away with telling a significant lie. A variation that has been in use almost as long is bold-faced lie, referring to a lie told with a straight and confident face (hence "bold-faced"), usually with the corresponding tone of voice and emphatic body language of one confidently speaking the truth. Bold-faced lie can also refer to misleading or inaccurate newspaper headlines, but this usage appears to be a more recent appropriation of the term.
An emergency lie is a strategic lie told when the truth may not be told because, for example, harm to a third party would result. For example, a neighbor might lie to an enraged husband about the whereabouts of his wife, whom he believes has been unfaithful, because said husband might reasonably be expected to inflict physical injury should he encounter his wife in person. Alternatively, an emergency lie could denote a (temporary) lie told to a second person because of the presence of a third.
White lies are minor lies which could be considered to be harmless, or even beneficial, in the long term. White lies are also considered to be used for greater good. A common version of a white lie is to tell only part of the truth, therefore not be suspected of lying, yet also conceal something else, to avoid awkward questions.
Augustine of Hippo wrote two books about lying: On Lying (De Mendacio) and Against Lying (Contra Mendacio). He describes each book in his later work, Retractions. Based on the location of De Mendacio in Retractions, it appears to have been written about 395 AD. The first work, On Lying, begins:
- "Magna quæstio est de Mendacio" ("There is a great question about Lying"). From his text, it can be derived that St. Augustine divided lies into eight categories, listed in order of descending severity:
- Lies in religious teaching
- Lies that harm others and help no one
- Lies that harm others and help someone
- Lies told for the pleasure of lying
- Lies told to "please others in smooth discourse"
- Lies that harm no one and that help someone materially
- Lies that harm no one and that help someone spiritually
- Lies that harm no one and that protect someone from "bodily defilement"