The 40 Lies Everyone Tells on a Daily Basis

Be honest—how many of these little white lies did you tell today?

Let's face it, we all stretch the truth from time to time. Every now and then it's a big lie that involves deliberate deceit and planning—like calling in sick to work, complete with a convincing fake cough and a touch of calculated congestion—but mostly it's in the form of inconsequential white lies that we tell to avoid hurting someone's feelings, to get on with our day, or to make our stories a little more interesting. With this in mind, here are 40 of the most common white lies people use on daily basis.

"I'm almost there."

energy before noon

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.

"It must have gone to my spam folder."

using an OOO message can fight spam email
AFANASEV IVAN / Shutterstock

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.

"My phone died."

ways you're ruining your cell phone

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.

"My phone's been acting weird."

young couple arguing in the backseat of a car while the man points to his phone defensively

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 wasn't that expensive."

cyber monday

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?

"Let's just do one more."

Friends taking shots during the Christmas holiday season

Yeah, right. We know you mean "four more."

"I don't really watch TV."

man trying to distract wife at computer

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."

serious senior male office manager points to a female employee while reprimanding her.

Don't you really mean that you haven't even started?

"It's so great to see you."

cheerful young businesswoman stands with an unrecognizable coworker in a crowded office building and smiles as she shakes hands with her new unrecognizable client

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 there's no one else in the world you'd rather run into. Just admit it: It's really not that great to see them.

"I don't care about looks as much as personality."

white man swiping on dating app
Shutterstock/Kaspars Grinvalds

Then why did you swipe right before you'd looked at their profile?

"I've slept with ___ people"

Couple Talking Before Sex husband mistakes

Depending on your history, that number is either wildly inflated or a massive understatement. Either way, you're no doubt stretching the truth.

"I read/watched that a while ago."

friends talking about child support things you should never say to a single parent

An old staple to use 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 judgmental, "you haven't read/seen that yet?!" reaction, your only option is this little white lie.

"I remember you."

Doubting dissatisfied man looking at woman, bad first date concept, young couple sitting at table in cafe, talking, bad first impression, new acquaintance in public place, unpleasant conversation

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. It's a harmless fib that saves both parties some embarrassment.

"That makes sense."

doubtful woman talking to friend things you should never say to a single parent

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, sometimes this is the only thing you can say.

"I'm having trouble hearing you."

older man trying to call someone on his cell phone

If you don't like where a conversation is going, bad reception is the perfect scapegoat. 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.

"Oh shoot, I forgot to do that."

Young businessman being fired at work

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.

"It's not you, it's me."

man looking down and touching his forehead while woman talks at a coffee shop

Let's be honest, it's you.

"I'm good."

Young couple talking in a restaurant about open marriage.

As in, "I'm good, how are you?" It's the automatic response we give in almost every small-talk exchange, whether it's with coworkers or complete strangers. You could be feeling depressed, or fighting off the flu, or just having a horrible day, but you're always going to say, "I'm good."

"I'm fine."

While in a disagreement, a young couple discusses problems. The wife sits on the sofa and gestures in frustration while husband listens intently

Serving a similar function as "I'm good," only this response might have more passive-aggressive connotations. Often used 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."

highway traffic

You have Google Maps and Waze and you probably 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 before you were supposed to be somewhere that you knew would take at least 45 minutes to get to, and then blamed traffic for the error of your ways. Likely story.

"The subway broke down."

Crowded Subway station Overpopulation

We know when this sentence is true by how truly exasperated you are. If it actually broke down, you wouldn'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's my last one."

Lies / Greed

Even if it's something as small as gum, 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 spot you grabbing another stick of gum in an hour.

"I try to get to the gym about four times a week."

Man at gym frustrated by resolution

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 and go with the "believable" four days.

"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."

two businessmen walking out of work together while it is still light out

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…

"That's interesting."

man bored on the phone

No, it's not. It's also not funny, surprising, exciting, or any other positive adjective, but you have to say something about it, so you're stuck with calling it exactly what it is not, "interesting."

"I didn't even see you there."

white woman looking offended by white boyfriend talking and smiling at her while sitting outside

You spotted that person the minute you walked in but were really hoping they didn't see you—or at least would pretend they didn't. Unfortunately, the other person is not willing to play along, so now you're going to have to have that awkward interaction—and pretend that there is nothing else you'd rather be doing.

"Let's hang out soon."

two women having a conversation while holding dogs

You're careful not to include any specifics—not "next week" or even "next month." Just the noncommittal "soon," which allows you to give the appearance of wanting nothing more than to see this person while avoiding ever actually having to hang out with them again.

"I'll call you later."

Homosexual young couple hanging out and relaxing on the streets in Greenwich Village - New York, USA.

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 them."

man flirting with older woman at the bar

When someone asks you about an impressive or powerful person that they know used to work at the same place you do, this little lie can come in handy. You don't try to say that you were thick as thieves, but that you crossed paths on occasion—even though they'd have no idea who you were.

"I gotta run."

Lies / Leaving a Party

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. You just don't want to hurt anyone's feelings so you try to add a little urgency to your departure.

"I caught that cold that's going around."

woman sneezing on couch, contagious conditions

A great lie when you don't feel like going out. It also has the added benefit of seeming like you have no choice in the matter, and aren't just choosing to be a bit of loner.

"I've been totally slammed."

woman on street on heated phone call, things not to say to customer service rep

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."

middle aged asian couple talking
Shutterstock/Monkey Business Images

You were not just going to say anything about it because you had no idea they just got a really pricey haircut. Fortunately they gave you an open door to save face.

"Just kidding!"

group of friends having fun outdoors in the city

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."

Woman on Phone, hings not to say to customer service rep

Weird how you would draft an email and then just not send it for months. More likely, you just didn't write the email in the first place.

"This is delicious!"

Couple, sandwiches

Your partner fancies themself a master chef and is often forcing their odd creations on you. The raspberry-radish combo in their latest dish really doesn't work, but you can't really say anything or your whole relationship 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"

couple talking and laughing in a group, better husband

It looks ridiculous and you know it.

"Your baby is adorable"

friends arguing with baby things you should never say to a single parent

Looks like any other baby you've seen, right?

Alex Daniel
A journalist based in Brooklyn, New York. Read more
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