As opposed to lying which is to assert a false statement knowing that it is untrue, with the intent to deceive.

Is there a related word for making a statement as if it were true, with the intent to deceive, except the individual is actually unaware of its truth value?


Contextual example:

Alice: This news presenter looks under-dressed.

Bob: No he doesn't, they probably don't get to choose what they wear anyway, so even if he did, its not his fault.

Alice: They do get to choose what they wear.

Bob: You don't know that, you're word/phrase here.

Alice does not know, but in the strict sense of the term, she is not lying because she does not know the real truth value of her statement. She wants to 'win' this exchange by asserting a statement whose truth she is ignorant of.

  • This is a confusing question. How can there be an intent to deceive if the utterer doesn't know whether what they are saying is true or not? If it is true, there is no deception. Feb 22, 2016 at 4:07
  • 1
    The utterer is aware that he doesn't know what he is presenting as truth is in fact truth. So it is still deception.
    – coffeebean
    Feb 22, 2016 at 4:09
  • If I say your cat is black, and it is indeed black, there is no deception. So, if I say your cat is black without knowing what colour it is, there can be no intent to deceive because it is possible for it to be true. To have an intent to deceive, I have to know that your cat is brown but tell you it is black anyway. Saying something that may or may not be true is not the same as intentionally saying something that you know 100% is not true. One is not caring whether something is true or not, the other is intentionally deceiving. Feb 22, 2016 at 4:13
  • This happens all the time. A very recent incident is a conspiracy theory (guess which one), when there is exactly zero knowledge which one of the two possible outcomes is true, and a lot of people strongly asserting that only A is true, or only B is true, when in reality nobody can possibly know except for the supposed conspirators. leap of faith is one term. Feb 22, 2016 at 4:15
  • 2
    @RoaringFish Presenting a known unknown as a truth or untruth is a form of deception.
    – coffeebean
    Feb 22, 2016 at 4:25

2 Answers 2


You might want to consider the word "conjecture" which means an opinion or idea formed without proof or sufficient evidence

Also consider "speculate" which similar in definition but has to do more with guessing.

  • Everyone I know would complete that sentence with the word "guessing".
    – user116032
    Feb 22, 2016 at 15:36

On the Wikipedia page on lying, the two terms that come closest are to bullshit and to fabricate:

Bullshit does not necessarily have to be a complete fabrication. While a lie is related by a speaker who believes what is said is false, bullshit is offered by a speaker who does not care whether what is said is true because the speaker is more concerned with giving the hearer some impression. Thus bullshit may be either true or false, but demonstrates a lack of concern for the truth which is likely to lead to falsehoods.

A fabrication is a lie told when someone submits a statement as truth, without knowing for certain whether or not it actually is true.[citation needed] Although the statement may be possible or plausible, it is not based on fact. Rather, it is something made up, or it is a misrepresentation of the truth. Examples of fabrication: A person giving directions to a tourist when the person doesn't actually know the directions. Often propaganda is fabrication.

The Wikipedia page on bullshit refers to an excerpt of an essay by philosopher Harry Frankfurt, who draws a distinction between a liar and a bullshitter:

The liar, Frankfurt holds, knows and cares about the truth, but deliberately sets out to mislead instead of telling the truth. The "bullshitter", on the other hand, does not care about the truth and is only seeking to impress

Those looking for a term less vulgar than bullshit might consider some of the possible synonyms for fabricate, making Alice's statement a contrivance, concoction, or simply, a fabrication.

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