Is there a one-word noun for someone who has been lying or keeping a secret, but who has been found out?

I can think of descriptors that aren’t nouns (exposed, found out, etc.) but I’m looking for a noun that means the actual person who has been exposed or found out, etc.

  • Perhaps.
    – tchrist
    Commented May 16, 2014 at 18:21
  • Wouldn't the "been found out" require a verb? Please give us context. How do you intend to use this word? Commented May 16, 2014 at 18:34
  • 1
    Grzelefaneache happens to have that exact meaning. Lucky you!
    – Oldcat
    Commented May 16, 2014 at 18:58
  • 1
    Someone who has been found to be a liar is bewrayed. 'Bewrayer'(noun) for the person who exposes but I found no evidence of 'bewaryee', or the person exposed [1]: dictionary.reference.com/browse/bewray
    – Third News
    Commented May 16, 2014 at 20:05
  • Ex.
    – Gnawme
    Commented May 16, 2014 at 21:08

10 Answers 10


Fraud comes to mind.

To our dismay we discovered Jacob was a fraud.

I say fraud because it almost always is used in the context of someone who has been exposed.


Wouldn't they just be a liar? If they are not found out they are not a liar (to you).

  • Indeed! They would be a 'liar in flagrante delicto'; as opposed to being a common or garden 'liar'.
    – WS2
    Commented May 16, 2014 at 19:53

Debunked might fit.

It is usually used as a verb or an adjective. It can be used as an adjectival noun also but that usage is not common. (For example: debunking the debunked.)

Debunker is the one who debunks.

In a very few sources, debunkee is used as a neologism or a nonce word for the one who gets debunked.


: to expose the sham or falseness of

: to show that something (such as a belief or theory) is not true : to show the falseness of (a story, idea, statement, etc.)

Disclosed comes to mind also but it is used as an adjective mainly.

made known (especially something secret or concealed); "the disclosed purpose of their wicked plan"

Note: Of course they can be called many things like crook, sham, phoney, double-dealer, counterfeiter, faker, scammer, fraudulent, trickster etc. depending on the context but the key point is being found out/discovered.

  • Google Books says there are about 57 written instances of debunkee, at least a couple of them going back to the 1930s. It certainly sounds good to me for "person whose lies have been exposed". Commented May 16, 2014 at 19:36
  • It's no big deal, but I don't think I'd use the word "neologism" for such an obvious and regularly-formed derivation that obviously has been used repeatedly over decades. Commented May 16, 2014 at 19:49
  • I suppose in some contexts the usage might be sarcastic and/or "tongue-in-cheek", but the very first instance in my link is a guy writing about classical music (specifically, Handel) in 1947. It seems completely serious and unselfconscious to me... Now, debunking generally means that the debunker attempts to knock the debunkee off a pedestal to which he, the debunker, considers that he, the debunkee, has no right.. (You can also see why he seriously needs the word in that context! :) Commented May 16, 2014 at 20:06
  • @FumbleFingers when I clicked on your Google books link, the results were only 20!?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented May 16, 2014 at 20:50
  • @Mari-Lou: Well I did write "Google says...". It still says 57 on the first page (of an expected 3 pages) when I go there. When I go to the next page, it says there should be 62, but when I go to the third page there's only one more result left to show, and GB is finally forced to admit there are only 21 in total. Their "guestimate" algorithm could do with some tweaking, obviously. Commented May 16, 2014 at 20:58

While the finding out of the lie isn't a requirement, the word charlatan is probably appropriate.


If that person was under oath when he/she lied and was debunked later on, the usual, legal term is perjurer.

perjury: the crime of telling a lie in a court of law after promising to tell the truth.

Alternately, consider impostor for someone who has been lying about or keeping his or her real name, identity, etc., a secret until he or she was debunked, and discoveree for someone who has been found out as lying, cheating, or keeping a secret.

impostor: a person who practices deception under an assumed character, identity, or name.

discoveree: (rare) one who is discovered.


Why not simply apply a couple of the world's most famous proper names to this situation?

"Nixon" or "Clinton" both scream to me as exceptional options, as in:

"He certainly has proven to be a Nixon."

"After that Clinton I doubt I'll ever believe him again."


I don't think there is word for what you've described.

Someone who has been lying is a liar, but that applies whether the lie has been discovered or not. The same applies to fraud, charlatan, or perjurer. I agree that these words are most often applied to people whose lies have been discovered, but that's because we don't call people liars unless we know they've lied. (For the same reason I don't refer to a box-of-kittens as a box-of-kittens until I've opened the box and seen the kittens inside, though it has been a box-of-kittens all along.)

But the original question is not referring to only liars. It refers also to someone who has kept a secret. Keeping a secret isn't the same as lying, and someone who has kept a secret isn't necessarily a liar or a fraud. (In the sense that my doctor is not a liar because he refuses to discuss my medical condition with you.)

  • Right--I keep running into trouble because I don't want something quite so negative, or that indicates the lying/keeping of secrets is habitual.
    – StephanS
    Commented May 20, 2014 at 15:06

Hmm, I can't think of one word that specifically means that. If you mean someone who is known to lie in general, the common phrase is "known liar". If you mean that he has been caught lying about one particular thing, I don't know any word or short phrase for that. You'd pretty much have to say, "Senator Jones was caught lying about his campaign contributors" or whatever the story is.


Culprit: a person who is responsible for a crime or other misdeed. "the car's front nearside door had been smashed in but the culprits had fled"

...the cause of a problem or defect: "low-level ozone pollution is the real culprit"

Google: Define culprit






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