Let’s face it: we’re all liars. Every now and then it’s a big lie that involves deliberate deceit and planning—like calling in sick to work, complete with convincing cough and congestion—but mostly these are inconsequential fibs that we tell to avoid hurting someone’s feelings, to get on with our day, or to make our stories a little more interesting.
We tweak the truth daily—if not every few minutes—and so much so that we may not even realize we’re doing it. With this in mind, here are 40 of the most common things people lie about. You’ll probably recognize a few on this list that you told this morning. And for more fun coverage of the things we say, check out the 100 Slang Terms from the 20th Century No One Uses Anymore.
“I’m almost there”
See also “I’m five minutes away” or “just around the block.” You know you’re not almost there—it’s going to be at least a half hour before you get to where your friends are waiting for you—but you still have to fudge the truth. To be on time for your next date, check out The 15 Hacks That Will Make You on Time—All The Time.
“It must have gone to my SPAM folder”
You saw the email when it came in, you may have even opened and read it, and then decided to deal with it later. In fact, you didn’t do anything with it. But when the sender asked you about it, perhaps weeks or months later, perhaps copying your boss, you had to give some excuse for why you didn’t do anything with it. So SPAM it was. And for some of history’s biggest lies, check out the 28 Most Enduring Myths in American History.
“My phone died”
When you get texts from two different friends suggesting two different plans and can’t make a decision about which you’d like to do, this is a convenient way to get out of making any choice at all. You just ignore both of them and send along this text the next morning.
“Oh shoot, I forgot to do that”
When your boss asked you to write up a proposal you know he’d just end up ignoring, you decided to ignore the request yourself. But in that rare case where your boss remembers something he asked you to do, you’ve got to act like it slipped out of your mind, not that you deliberately ignored him. But if for any reason you did actually forget—and, for the record, we know you didn’t—here are 20 Simple Ways to Improve Your Memory.
“It wasn’t that expensive”
A good one to break out when your partner asks how much you spent on that new jacket or shoes. You definitely couldn’t afford them, but that’s what credit cards are for, right? If you’ve already maxed out your credit cards this year, follow our guide for some financial therapy with the 14 Money-Saving Habits You Need to Adopt This Year.
“Let’s do just one more”
Yeah, right. We know you mean “four more.”
“I don’t really watch TV”
Just because it’s streaming on your computer and not on a flatscreen mounted to your wall doesn’t mean it’s not still TV. More often than not, this is a lie you tell yourself—that since you’re choosing what to watch rather than letting cable or network stations dictate what you watch, you are not just watching TV. But that’s exactly what it is.
“I’m almost finished”
You haven’t even started.
“It’s soooo great to see you”
You haven’t seen this person for months and if it was up to you, it would be years more before you saw them again. But you bumped into them at a cocktail party and now have to act as if you’ve been trying hard to see them in that time. Admit it: It’s really not that great to see them. And to help you curb your lying ways, read The 50 Best Ways to Be a (Much) Better Man.
“I don’t care about looks as much as personality”
Then why did you swipe right before you’d looked at their profile? And if you’re an active Tinder user, here are 10 Celebrities You Might Swipe Right On.
“I’ve slept with ___ people”
Depending on your history, that number is either wildly inflated or a massive understatement. Either way, you’re no doubt full of it.
“I read/watched that a while ago”
A favorite when a friend mentions a book or movie you probably should have read or seen by now, but never got around to it. Unless you want to get that wide-eyed, “you haven’t read/seen that yet??” reaction, your only option is to lie.
“I remember you”
The person you were just introduced to certainly seems to remember you. They can even name your mutual friend and the party where you first met. But you’ve got no idea who they are and aren’t about to admit it, so you smile and warmly recall meeting them before.
“That makes sense”
When a friend explains their decision to move miles out of the city or to get a pet iguana instead of a dog or some other choice that seems weird or illogical, this is a convenient lie to tell them.
“I’m having trouble hearing you”
If you don’t like where a conversation is going, bad reception is the perfect culprit. There might be a slight bit of static on the other line or a little break in the audio, but if you really wanted to hear what the other person was saying, you probably could.
“My phone’s been acting weird”
A solid back-up to “my phone died,” this lie is great for explaining away basically anything—an email you ignored, a voicemail you never answered, or a text you sent and regret. Just blame the phone!
“It’s not you, it’s me”
Let’s be honest, it’s you.
As in, “I’m good, how are you?” It’s the automatic response we give in almost every small-talk exchange, whether with coworkers or complete strangers. You could be feeling hung over or fighting off a flu or just having a horrible day, and you’re going to say, “I’m good.”
Can be said in a similarly genial tone as “Good, how are you?” but more likely, you’ll say it in that passive-aggressive way when you’re trying to convey that you are not fine to your partner or someone at work who is annoying you.
“Traffic was nuts”
You have Google Maps and Waze and you’ve probably driven that route many times, at rush hour or off-peak times, and you have a pretty good idea of how long it will take you to get from one place to another. Yet you didn’t leave your place until 20 minutes you were supposed to be somewhere and you knew would take at least 45 minutes to get to, but blamed the gods of traffic for your error. We see right through your game!
“The subway broke down”
We know when this sentence is true by how truly exasperated you are. If it really, really broke down, you won’t stop talking about it. But, like the traffic lie, blaming the subway is a convenient way to cover for your scheduling screw up. It also has the benefit of giving the person you’re offering the excuse to something they can commiserate with you about. Instead of giving you a dirty look for being late, they are more likely to respond with their own subway horror story.
“It was my last one”
Whether it’s gum, cigarettes, or cash, you know it’s petty not to offer a little of what you’ve got to a friend, or even stranger, in need. But for whatever reason you just can help yourself from being greedy, so you act like you’re all out—and just hope the person asking doesn’t spotting you grabbing another cigarette or stick of gum in an hour.
“I try to get to the gym about four times a week”
Yeah right—you’ve been maybe twice this month and consider that a near-record. But when someone asks you don’t want to be honest about how slothful you are—and, at the same time, you don’t want to be too obviously lying by saying you’re working out every day. So you split the difference with the four-times-a-week lie.
“I’ve got plans that day”
You know your calendar is wide open but you just don’t want to do the thing you were invited to. You could just tell the truth and say, “I don’t want to do that,” but instead you act like you’ve got a packed schedule. Just watch out for when they ask if you’ve got plans the next day.
“I’ve got an appointment”
You don’t have an appointment, you want to leave work early or get in late. Watch out about using this one more than once every few months unless you’re going to have to build that little lie out into a whole ongoing illness or disease, which can get complicated.
“I love it!”
Said more often around Valentine’s Day or any gift-giving holiday, this is the lie you say when you get something you really hate, or at least think is pretty lame, but don’t want to hurt the feelings of the giver. Now you just need to figure out who you can regift it to…
No, it’s not. But it’s also not funny, surprising, exciting or any other adjective, but you have to say something about it, so you’re stuck with calling it interesting.
“I didn’t even see you there”
You spotted that person the minute you walked in but were really hoping you could both pretend not to see each other. Unfortunately, the other person is not willing to play along, so now you’re going to have to actually speak with one another—and pretend that there is nothing you would rather be doing more.
“I’ll call you later”
I think you mean “never.” Like “let’s hang out soon,” this is a favorite lie of those who want to put on the appearance of friendliness without actually wanting to be friends.
“I didn’t work that closely with him/her”
When someone knows another person worked at the same company as you, you don’t want to make it obvious that you had no connection whatsoever to them, so you play it off as if you crossed paths occasionally even though they’d have zero idea who you are.
“I gotta run”
You have nowhere else to be, but this party is starting to get boring and you know you’d rather just hang out at home with Netflix. But you think it will make these guys feel better if you add a little urgency to your departure.
“I caught what’s going around”
A great lie when you don’t feel like going out. Has the added benefit of seeming like you’re hopping on the bandwagon rather than being a loner—everyone else is getting sick, so why can’t you, too?
“I’ve been totally slammed”
With what? You’ve had plenty of time to return a call or help out with the errand your friend is asking you about, but you’d rather not do it and instead act like you’re so busy with a million other things that somehow have taken up all your time.
“I was just going to say how nice your hair looks”
You were not just going to say anything about it because you had no idea she just got a really pricey haircut. Fortunately she tipped you off to that and you’re smart enough to cover your tracks fast.
“Let’s hang out soon”
You’re careful not to include any specifics—not “next week” or even “next month.” Just the noncommittal “soon” that allows you to give the appearance of wanting nothing more than to see this person while avoiding every actually having to hang out with them again.
A convenient button to add to any comment that you realize was a bit too true. When you say something that comes out a little harsher or more honest than you’d intended (perhaps after a few beers), this is a favorite go-to for backtracking. Nobody believes you were joking, but it’s easier than acknowledging that you just said exactly what you meant.
“I had this in my drafts folder”
Weird how you would draft an email then just not send it for months. More likely, you just didn’t write the email in the first place.
“This is delicious”
Your friend fancies herself as a master chef and is often foisting her odd cookies and muffins at you. The raspberry-radish combo in her latest dish really doesn’t work, but you can’t really say anything or your whole friendship might take a hit. So you swallow as much as you can and find a way to discard the rest.
“That looks great on you”
It looks ridiculous and you know it.
“Your baby is adorable”
The kid looks like a bruised potato, admit it!
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