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I need more formal ways to express three related terms: bullshit artist, BS-ing, and the art of BS-ing.


Edit -- providing some context:

The type of BS I need to talk about is the kind that inflates the success of a program. So, I found the following verbs relevant to the situation, by looking at synonyms of exaggerate: magnify, distort, misrepresent, falsify, stretch, embroider, boast, hyperbolize, and the best of all: lay it on thick.

Somehow I would like to capture the artistry aspect.

I will be speaking in public and I have to use formal language; it would be good if I could be subtle, too (but still get the idea across).

  • 1
    'dissembler'? 'equivocator'? 'politician'? – Mitch Jun 7 '15 at 16:01
  • Depends what you mean by bullshit. A BSer could be just a liar, or a teller of tall tales, or other things. – pazzo Jun 7 '15 at 16:09
  • in some cases you can just say "con-man". – Fattie Jun 7 '15 at 16:17
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    The type of BS I need to talk about is the kind that inflates the success of a program. I think you should stick to verbs and not be looking for a label. He exaggerates, he aggrandizes, he distorts, he relies on skewed data, he cherry-picks his data, etc etc. – TRomano Jun 7 '15 at 18:05
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    If you want to be respectful, but still get to call someone out on intentional exaggeration you could take a humorous approach. Maybe say that they have a 'creative' or perhaps 'overly enthusiastic' interpretation of the facts. – Jason M Jun 8 '15 at 5:42

10 Answers 10

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A more formal term for a bullshit artist is hyperbolist.

Hyperbolist n. 1. One who uses hyperboles.
- Webster's 1913

hyperbole: exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally.
- Google

  • I've seen hyperbole in the dictionary, but I don't know the word so well as to have ever used it. It looks appealing, though. So why did someone vote it down? Does the downvote mean it doesn't fit my context very well -- if that's the case, could someone please explain what's wrong with it? – aparente001 Jun 7 '15 at 16:43
  • I'm mystified too. Many sources, but from Webster's 1913 Hyper´bolist n. 1. One who uses hyperboles. – Zan700 Jun 7 '15 at 17:24
  • Bullshit is largely and fundamentally exaggeration, which is the definition of hyperbole. If in fiction or nonfiction, the writer was trying to gently mock a bullshitter, hyperbolist would be a good fit. Admittedly, bullshit can also mean thoughtless and mean-spirited actions, so hyperbolist would not fit there. – Zan700 Jun 7 '15 at 17:39
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    My guess is that the downvote is not in response to the suggestion hyperbolist, but in reaction to the absence of any formal definition of the term hyperbolist from a dictionary or other relevant reference work. But since I'm not the downvoter, I'm just speculating here. – Sven Yargs Jun 8 '15 at 3:14
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    Edited to move your citation into the actual answer, plus add a definition of hyperbole. – Chris Sunami Jun 8 '15 at 21:09
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One option is to call the person a fabulist. Here is Merriam-Webster's definition of the term (from the Eleventh Collegiate Dictionary):

fabulist n (1593) 1 : a creator or writer of fables 2 : LIAR

If the person grossly exaggerates the success of the programs he or she is involved with, you might consider referring to the person as a Baron Munchausen, in honor of the eighteenth-century German nobleman who never let reality get in the way of a colorful (not to say florid) account of his extraordinary adventures and achievements.

  • Very nice! I'm not sure how well known this reference is, and I'm worried about the pronunciation. Since I speak German (as a second language -- but my pronunciation is my strong suit), I have a hard time pronouncing German words and names with an American accent. So I'm afraid I might not be understood. I'll be verbally addressing a group, that will include the baron himself (that's why I have to be a bit subtle). – aparente001 Jun 7 '15 at 16:50
  • @aparente001: Fabulist doesn't need to be particularly well-known to be understood. In context, I think most native speakers who weren't actually familiar with it would be able to extrapolate the meaning from fable without any trouble. – FumbleFingers Jun 7 '15 at 18:23
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Someone who publicizes the accomplishments or the attractions of something is a promoter, and we all know that promotion can often be independent of the actual merits of the thing being promoted.

By emphasizing the skill of the promoter, you subtly suggest that the promotion outweighs the actual production --thus you might modify the phrase as skilled promoter, talented promoter, enthusiastic promoter or, using one of my favorite adjectival phrases, silver-tongued promoter.

  • What I like about this is that "silver-tongued" sounds like a compliment. I definitely need something sweet and sour. – aparente001 Jun 9 '15 at 16:57
  • Yes, when you said you would directly be addressing your target, I realized that you needed something that would at least superficially sound positive. It looks like you don't want "The Baron" to be the only BS artist in the room! :D – Chris Sunami Jun 9 '15 at 17:40
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In AmE, "Bullshit" may mean several things - depending on context - it may refer to a lie, a 'softened' presentation of hard facts, or a casual conversation.

Try:

"He has the gift of Blarney"

"He is practiced in the art of deception" (courtesy of: The Rolling Stones)

"He is an adroit conversationalist"

"He is a very influential speaker"

"He can pull the wool over anyone's eyes"

1

If you aren't set on a single word, you could phrase it like this:

"These people elevate X to an art form"

Where X is your favorite polite synonym for bulls***ing.

Google books

1

One possibility is

embellisher

meaning one who embellishes

  1. To make beautiful, as by ornamentation; decorate.
  2. To add ornamental or fictitious details to: a fanciful account that embellishes the true story.

For something comparable to "bullshit artist", you could use accomplished embellisher.

Example

Jeff Golding, man of letters, acclaimed travel writer and accomplished embellisher of the uneventful,...

Another example

..where the soccer idol Diego Maradona once play-acted his way to the infamous Hand of God goal. “In soccer, they’re masters at that — it’s an art,” said Vujacic, an accomplished embellisher.

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This may be the right tone.

Embroider: verb (Merriam-Webster on line)

2 : elaboration by use of decorative and often fictitious detail

also Embroidery.

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This was a really helpful brainstorming session.

Here's what I ended up saying:

I read a glossy brochure published by Pearson about So-And-So's feats of technological and consultational prowess.

I just thought you might be curious. Thanks to all.

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Blaguer [TFD]

blague (blɑːɡ) noun 1. pretentious but empty talk; nonsense [C19: from French]
hence ˈblaguer n

If you admire the technique of the BSA you could try Flâneur

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Certainly flack fits your needs.

a person whose job is to make people like or be interested in someone or something

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