What word (or expression) can I use that means “to break someone's lie”?

I mean to aggressively point out that she or he is lying.

She stood up and ___ his lie/that he was a liar.

I'm thinking of debunk, but it doesn't seem suitable here.

  • I've edited the question. If you are unhappy with the edits you can click on edit and rollback to the previous version. I hope this helps.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Nov 9 '15 at 10:25
  • How about decried?
    – nickson104
    Nov 9 '15 at 11:09
  • 3
    consider "calling bullshit" or "I call bullshit!" in some situations, an extension of calling out a lie as per AP below.
    – Fattie
    Nov 10 '15 at 13:05
  • Not sure if this is in the context you want so I did not add it as a question but you could say that you "caught them red handed"
    – marsh
    Nov 10 '15 at 14:02
  • Context would help. Is this in the bedroom or the courtroom? In a public debate or a hospital waiting room?
    – jmoreno
    Nov 11 '15 at 6:58

17 Answers 17


You may want to consider using divulge or the phrase brought to light. Although, they are not very aggressive. A more aggressive term would be brand. As in , "She stood up and branded him a liar."


You might say you "exposed" that person as a liar.

That works mostly if it is to a larger audience of people. It loses some power if it's just two people arguing in a kitchen. I guess the connotation is that this person was lying to many people, and you "exposed" her to all of them.

  • You can also "expose a lie" directly.
    – Samthere
    Nov 12 '15 at 13:28

Consider "to call someone's lie":

There are times when a subject may try to misinform you, even utter lies. In such cases, you don’t have to call his lie.


Another possibility was suggested in the comments: to call someone out (on their lie.)

I didn't get mad, but could tell he was lying and later called him out on it.


Also to call someone on their lie can be used (omitting the preposition "out"):

Why did my boyfriend get so mad when I exposed his lies?

So, why did your ex-boyfriend get so angry when you called him on his lies?


(In the example above, the first line is a question, and the second is part of the answer restating the question in different words. I highlighted "expose" and "call out on" in bold to demonstrate parallelism. To show they mean the same thing.)

  • 9
    Also "to call them out (on their lie)." idioms.thefreedictionary.com/call+out Definition #4
    – user1359
    Nov 9 '15 at 14:32
  • I've personally never heard "his lie" be the object of "call". It's either "call him out" or "call his bluff".
    – Bobson
    Nov 9 '15 at 23:11
  • 1
    Sorry for the downvote, but "calling someone's lie" isn't a well known English idiom at all. Google "call his lie" returns this page as the top hit.
    – James
    Nov 10 '15 at 5:56
  • 2
    "calling a lie" is a completely normal and common English phrase.
    – Fattie
    Nov 10 '15 at 13:04
  • 1
    @Mari-LouA It's to emphasize the parallelism. At the page I linked to the question uses "expose" and the answer uses "call out on". The parallelism leaves no doubt as to the meaning (see my updated answer.) I didn't mean to take away from Andy's answer, in fact, I upvoted it.
    – A.P.
    Nov 10 '15 at 14:31


to ​prove a ​statement, ​opinion, or ​belief to be ​wrong or ​false


"She stood up and refuted his lie."

  • 2
    "refute" would mean to prove the falsehood of the lie, not to expose the liar.
    – user146688
    Nov 9 '15 at 16:53
  • @anrderj - Excellent point. It's a fine distinction, but it makes a significant difference in terms of the question asked. Nov 10 '15 at 13:34
  • But if the second speaker isn't disproving the first statement, all she's doing is contradicting or disputing it, or accusing the first speaker of being a liar.  The question seems to be asking for something stronger than those.
    – Scott
    Nov 12 '15 at 1:34

She stood up and denounced him as a liar or She stood up and denounced his lies.

You could even say I denounce you as a liar! or just You liar! or You lie!

When said strongly, additional words aren't really needed.

From Merriam-Webster (www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/denounce):

1 : to pronounce especially publicly to be blameworthy or evil

And less so, but related:

3 : to inform against : accuse

The word decry was mentioned, and is possible, but to me is not quite right, because that is (Merriam Webster) express strong disapproval of which isn't quite the same as saying that someone is lying/wrong/etc. (The person could be telling the truth and you still decry him.)


You could give him the lie

To charge with falsehood; as, the man gave him the lie. [Webster's]

  • 5
    This feels archaic to me. See Ngram. Nov 9 '15 at 10:25
  • 2
    @PeterShor, quite likely (I've been reading too much Rafael Sabatini recently). Nov 9 '15 at 12:51
  • Good for you! I've liked the Sabatini I've read; I should read more of him. Nov 9 '15 at 14:53

She stood up and dismantled his lie. More aggressively: she tore his lie apart or she made mincemeat of his lie.


The first word that came to mind for me was: busted! Growing up in Southern California this was a term I heard all the time when someone was exposed as a liar.

Ex: Busted! Hillary's Benghazi lies go even deeper

and: It Gets Worse For Republicans As GOP Busted For Lying About Access To Emails


Similar to give him the lie, you can give the lie to [something].

She stood up and gave the lie to his claims

source: http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/give-the-lie-to-sth


I would use "see through". She saw through his lie.

  • 2
    Your answer limits to the fact that she only understood that he was lying and may/may not have taken the decision to accuse him publicly after it. What the OP asked for is along the lines of 'publicly exposing' the lie, not just knowing it. Nov 10 '15 at 4:57
  • I would suggest "cut through". She cut through his lie.
    – PCARR
    Nov 10 '15 at 16:21
  • In that case I'd say "she exposed his lie".
    – RedSonja
    Nov 12 '15 at 12:00

In some situations, "revealed" can work: "She stood up and revealed his lie".

However, this can imply that there was some preparation, and/or that the lying happened in the past. The reason is that "to reveal" means to make visible what was invisible before.


Shakespeare said, "to give someone the lie direct". The "lie direct" is a bold and barefaced lie. Accusing someone of the lie direct is a big takedown.


I would like to propose "outed" or "indicted" as follows:

  • She stood up and indicted him on his lie.
  • She stood up and outed him on his lie.

You could also say that you "caught him out in a lie". That might work without being too extragavant or dramatic.


I would say something like this:

She stood up and called him out on his lie.
She stood up and put him on blast for his lie.

Another good word would be 'refute'. It's similar to 'debunked', which you had mentioned.

Refute: prove (a statement or theory) to be wrong or false; disprove.

source: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/refute

You could also use 'challenged' which is less assertive, or invalidate(d).


Just wanted to add another word: impugn, which means "to dispute the truth, validity, or honesty of (a statement or motive)" i.e "She impugned his pleas of innocence."

It comes from the Latin pugnare meaning "to fight", so it's a fairly "aggressive" word.


How about 'unmask'?

You could say 'she unmasked his lies' or 'she unmasked him as a liar'. It has quite a theatrical feeling and is probably more associated with something done publicly than privately between two people.

  • I think you'd rather unmask a person than a lie.
    – RedSonja
    Nov 17 '15 at 9:24

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.