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I am writing a column for publication in a widely circulated newspaper, and would like to use a phrase meaning something like "call bullshit". I can't think of one that captures the meaning so succinctly. I certainly don't want to use the original phrase (not my style, and it's partly aimed at school students of varying ages).

To aid in finding options, the intended excerpt is something like:

If you claim to have compiled such a list then I know I can always call bullshit by finding an item you missed.

NB: the deception was not intentional on the part of the list compiler — they missed an item, not omitted it.

  • In that case, you could use "such a careless person!" – Damkerng T. Nov 27 '13 at 5:45
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    In that case calling bullshit is not appropriate in the first place. That implies either a willful intent to deceive or complete ignorance. – Jim Nov 27 '13 at 5:45
  • @Jim - I'm leaning towards the implication of complete ignorance. But perhaps my internalised meaning of the phrase is incorrect! – user58312 Nov 27 '13 at 5:48
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    Someone is bullshitting when they try to talk as if they are an expert about things of which they know very little. When someone realizes that they are doing this they can call that person a bullshitter and what they're saying bullshit. But it all stems from trying to deceive the listener into believing they know more than they actually do. The phrase has been extended to include lying in general- you can call someone's blatant lie bullshit as well. – Jim Nov 27 '13 at 5:53
  • Ah, ok. Then this (or synonyms) is not the phrase I'm looking for. Though the meaning is not far off, I think I'll search for an easier phrase to use. – user58312 Nov 27 '13 at 5:54
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This may be inadequate for your purposes, but to "call foul" is equivalent.

  • I seem to have somehow missed the comments below your question. Sorry. – Dodgie Nov 27 '13 at 6:18
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My vote would go to "I call shenanigans," a fairly recent expression that may very well have its origin in euphemism, as Malvolio suggests in an answer to the question What's the origin of the common phrase "I call shenanigans"? —asked on this site back in April 2011.

The two-word phrase "call shenanigans" yields no matches in a Google Books search through the year 2008, but a standard exact-phrase search for "I call shenanigans" on Google produces more than 1.8 million matches, so it's clearly a popular phrase.

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How about

If you claim to have compiled such a list then I know I can always spot Waldo by finding an item you missed.

Works for me.

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    To me (not an American) that seems like a very weird phrase, even after translating it to 'spot Wally'. It would be almost meaningless in my country, I think. – user58312 Nov 27 '13 at 23:41
  • @user58312 So make it mean something in your country. – Mr_Spock Nov 28 '13 at 0:29
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    @Mr_Spock hardly a useful expression for the present if it's not intuitive and not known. So it's understandably not useful to the OP. I appreciate your principle, though. – Dodgie Nov 28 '13 at 4:08

protected by tchrist Jul 2 '14 at 2:53

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