I'm aware you can use swallow like this:

Your story is pretty hard to swallow, but I am beginning to believe it.

Source: http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/hard+to+swallow

But can I use it like this?

What I told him was that I had gone to look for my friend. I hope he swallowed my lie.

(Or maybe I hope he bought it it's a better choice?)

  • I think there's a minor problem with the antecedent to "it," which must be the tall tale you spun about looking for your friend. But the connection is a little tenuous, not least because what's the big deal about telling someone you were looking for a friend? How about: "What I told him was that I had gone to look for my friend. I hope he swallowed my explanation." – deadrat Jun 18 '15 at 6:15
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    "I hope he bought it" is a much better choice. "swallowed" tends to only be used with "hard to swallow". – Fattie Jun 18 '15 at 7:32
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    @Joe Blow 30 000+ Google hits for "swallowed the lie". – Edwin Ashworth Jun 18 '15 at 22:51
  • Hi Edwin - good one – Fattie Jun 20 '15 at 5:00

If you use "to buy sth" or "to swallow sth" for "to believe sth" you use informal variants. Actually these expressions are informal metaphors of spoken language. "to swallow" draws a comparison to food that one eats or does not eat and "to buy" transfers credibility of something to shopping and articles that one buys or not, because they are of minor quality. I would not exaggerate the use of metaphorical expressions for simple words such as to believe. But I think your use of "swallow the lie" is fine.

  • I always thought that "I won't swallow that" was the same "tool the bait" metaphor extended by "hook, line and sinker." – user867 Jun 18 '15 at 7:48
  • Yes, "to swallow it/sth hook, line, and sinker" is a fine metaphor for to believe with the image of a fish swallowing the bait with the hook. – rogermue Jun 18 '15 at 7:56
  • In fact, you're using metaphors. Ideas are not real things and we don't have real words that only deal with them, so we use metaphors to refer to understanding or accepting ideas, like eating (He didn't swallow it), smelling (Something smells rotten here),, or trading (He didn't buy it). – John Lawler Jun 18 '15 at 16:35
  • "ideas are not real things:" I don't buy that, Professor, or rather, I find it very hard to swallow. They're all there is. – Hugh Jun 18 '15 at 20:09
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    @Hugh Careful, you're steering dangerously close to the reefs of solipsism. – user867 Jun 18 '15 at 23:56

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