Lying usually means telling something we know is not true, or concealing what is true, in service of our personal gain or interest. Liars want, through their lie, to get ahead by looking more accomplished than they are, to flatter others, to protect themselves, to manipulate others, or for financial gain, among other rationales. Lying is deception, and is usually considered unethical, though some consider it a lesser evil to lie to protect others from harm. Lies undermine relationships, both close relationships and the network of relationships we call society.

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If you once forfeit the confidence of your fellow citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem. It is true that you may fool all of the people some of the time; you can even fool some of the people all of the time; but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.

— Abraham Lincoln

A lie is an abomination unto the Lord, and a very present help in trouble.

— Adlai Stevenson

The great masses of the people … will more easily fall victims to a big lie than to a small one.

— Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf

Lying is done with words, but also with silence.

— Adrienne Rich

A liar will not be believed, even when he speaks the truth.

— Aesop, The Shepherd’s Boy

He who tells a lie is not sensible of how great a task he undertakes; for he must be forced to invent twenty more to maintain that one.

— Alexander Pope

An excuse is worse and more terrible than a lie; for an excuse is a lie guarded.

— Alexander Pope

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.

— Alfred Lord Tennyson

A lie which is half a truth is ever the blackest of lies.

— Alfred Lord Tennyson

Tell no lies. Expose lies whenever they are told. Mask no difficulties, mistakes, failures. Claim no easy victories.

— Amilcar Cabral

Without lies humanity would perish of despair and boredom.

— Anatole France

One falsehood spoils a thousand truths.

— Ashanti Proverb

The most mischievous liars are those who keep sliding on the verge of truth.

— Augustus William Hare

I love my man,
I’m a liar if I say I don’t.
But I’ll quit my man,
I’m a liar if I say I won’t.

— Billie Holiday, Billie’s Blues

Skepticism must go hand in hand with rationality. When theories are shown to be false, the correct thing to do is to move on.

— Brian Cox

One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.

— Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

People lie because they don’t remember clear what they saw. / People lie because they can’t help making a story better than it was the way it happened.

— Carl Sandburg

A liar goes in fine clothes, /A liar goes in rags. /A liar is a liar, clothes or no clothes.

— Carl Sandburg

Falsehood is often rocked by truth, but she soon outgrows her cradle and discards her nurse.

— Charles Caleb Colton

He who does not bellow the truth when he knows the truth makes himself the accomplice of liars and forgers.

— Charles Peguy

A lie is an abomination unto the Lord, and a very present help in trouble.

— combination of Proverbs 12:22 and Psalms 46:1

There is a price to pay for speaking the truth. There is a bigger price for living a lie.

— Cornel West

You cannot play with the animal in you without becoming wholly animal, play with falsehood without forfeiting your right to truth, play with cruelty without losing your sensitivity of mind. He who wants to keep his garden tidy does not reserve a plot for weeds.

— Dag Hammarskjöld

It would be better for us to have some doubts in an honest pursuit of truth, than it would be for us to be certain about something that was not true.

— Daniel Wallace

Nothing is easier than self-deceit. For what each man wishes, that he also believes to be true.

— Demosthenes

Never does hatred cease by hating in return; only through love can hatred come to an end. Victory breeds hatred; the conquered dwell in sorrow and resentment. They who give up all thought of victory or defeat may be calm and live happily at peace. Let us overcome violence by gentleness; let us overcome evil by good; Let us overcome the miserly by liberality; let us overcome the liar by truth.

— Dhammapada

Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song,
A medley of extemporanea;
And love is a thing that can never go wrong;
And I am Marie of Roumania.

— Dorothy Parker, Not So Deep as a Well

By the time you say you’re his,
Shivering and sighing
And he vows his passion is
Infinite, undying–
Lady, make a note of this:
One of you is lying.

— Dorothy Parker, Not So Deep as a Well

Americans detest all lies except lies spoken in public or printed lies.

— Edgar Watson Howe

In every age it has been the tyrant, the oppressor and the exploiter who has wrapped himself in the cloak of patriotism, or religion, or both to deceive and overawe the People.

— Eugene V. Debs

He saw she was lying but it was a brave lie. They talked from their hearts—with the half truths and evasions peculiar to that organ, which has never been famed as an instrument of precision.

— F. Scott Fitzgerald

Repetition does not transform a lie into a truth.

— Franklin D. Roosevelt

That lies should be necessary to life is part and parcel of the terrible and questionable character of existence.

— Friedrich Nietzsche

Success has always been a great liar.

— Friedrich Nietzsche

One may sometimes tell a lie, but the grimace that accompanies it tells the truth.

— Friedrich Nietzsche

No one lies so boldly as the man who is indignant.

— Friedrich Nietzsche

All truth is simple… is that not doubly a lie?

— Friedrich Nietzsche

Convictions are more dangerous foes of truth than lies.

— Friedrich Nietzsche

The most common lie is that which one lies to himself; lying to others is relatively an exception.

— Friedrich Nietzsche

We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once. And we should call every truth false which was not accompanied by at least one laugh.

— Friedrich Nietzsche

And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed — if all records told the same tale — then the lie passed into history and became truth. ‘Who controls the past’ ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.’

— George Orwell, 1984

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.

— George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four

War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.

— George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four

“Who controls the past,” ran the Party slogan, “controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.”

— George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four

Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.

— George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four

Political language–and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists–is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

— George Orwell

The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish squirting out ink.

— George Orwell

Lying is not only excusable; it is not only innocent, and instinctive; it is, above all, necessary and unavoidable. Without the ameliorations that it offers life would become a mere syllogism, and hence too metallic to be borne.

— H. L. Mencken, Prejudices: Fourth Series

One man lies in his words, and gets a bad reputation; another in his manners, and enjoys a good one.

— Henry David Thoreau

It is a general rule that when the grain of truth cannot be found, men will swallow great helpings of falsehood.

— Isaac Bashevis Singer, Yentl the Yeshiva Boy
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