Is there a simpler or better way of saying "promises that hold no meaning" or "promises without meaning"?

  • You'd better hold on to your promises because you bet you'll get what you deserve (cit.)
    – o0'.
    Mar 28, 2015 at 8:47

6 Answers 6


Empty promises.

empty promise

(idiomatic) A promise that is either not going to be carried out, worthless or meaningless.

  • 1
    Yep, this is definitely the most idiomatic term. After that I'd go with (duh!) "meaningless promises".
    – Hot Licks
    Mar 27, 2015 at 12:24
  • Also (a distant second) "hollow promise". Mar 28, 2015 at 10:21

In my Google searches, in several books "vacuous promise" appears as a synonym for "empty promise". It has a more dramatic tone that may or may not be a good fit with your work. It can convey undertones of thoughtlessness on the part of the person making the promise.

From Google's definition:

adjective: vacuous

  1. having or showing a lack of thought or intelligence; mindless. "a vacuous smile" synonyms: blank, vacant, expressionless, deadpan, inscrutable, inexpressive, poker-faced, emotionless, impassive, absent, absent-minded, uninterested, empty, glassy, stony, wooden, motionless, lifeless, inanimate More antonyms: expressive, meaningful, thinking, intelligent
  2. (archaic) empty.

An empty promise or a false/fake promise can be used. But an empty promise is the best one.


More specialized or poetic phrases:

  • "promises in the dark"
  • "campaign promises"
  • [you made me] "promises, promises"
  • "lies"

Or even you want example from Song of Fire and Ice: words are wind


i would say "truism" for a promise which is true, but meaningless. e.g. suppose i say "i promise to give to charity at least as much this year as last year". that would be a meaningless (but true) promise, if i gave nothing to charity last year.


i would say "empty promise" for a promise which the speaker has no intention of trying to keep and/or no expectation of being held accountable. e.g. "i promise to come back before i die". that promise is meaningful, but not necessarily true.

  • A truism is a commonly repeated statement that is true. It has nothing to do with promises that may or may not be true.
    – phenry
    Mar 27, 2015 at 17:53
  • i was using "truism" in it's logical sense. "a proposition that states nothing beyond what is implied by any of its terms." you could use tautology if you prefer. i have updated the answer to be more clear. source: google.com/search?q=truism Mar 31, 2015 at 19:10

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