23

This is a single word, idiom, phrase, expression request - so basically I'll take anything that fits the bill.

Basically I'm trying to translate the Chinese word 吹牛 - which dictionaries will tell you mean to brag & to boast - but it actually also refers to things that are usually all untruths and lies.

I thought, originally, that one of these would work: he's just bragging (i.e.: it's not, actually, true) - but Google only says:

brag

braɡ/

verb

?verb: brag; 3rd person present: brags; past tense: bragged; past participle: bragged; gerund or present participle: bragging

  1. say something in a boastful manner. "he bragged that he was sure of victory"

noun

noun: brag; plural noun: brags

  1. a boastful statement.

and

boast1

bəʊst/

verb

verb: boast; 3rd person present: boasts; past tense: boasted; past participle: boasted; gerund or present participle: boasting

  1. talk with excessive pride and self-satisfaction about one's achievements, possessions, or abilities.

    "she boasted about her many conquests"

    synonyms: brag, crow, swagger, swank, gloat, show off, blow one's own trumpet, sing one's own praises, congratulate oneself, pat oneself on the back; More

    exaggerate, overstate; preen oneself, give oneself airs; informaltalk big, blow hard, lay it on thick, shoot one's mouth off; informalskite, big-note oneself "his mother had been boasting about how wonderful he was to all her friends" antonyms: deprecate, belittle

  2. (of a person, place, or thing) possess (a feature that is a source of pride). "the hotel boasts high standards of comfort"

noun

noun: boast; plural noun: boasts

  1. an act of talking with excessive pride and self-satisfaction.

    "I said I would win and it wasn't an idle boast"

Not really seeing anything talking about lies.

Anything about bragging or boasting that involves lies?

  • 1
    If you are looking to emphasize the lie you could always modify boast with something like - 'deceitful boasts' , or "boasting deceit", or "boasting deceptions" but they aren't idioms – Tom22 Jan 22 '17 at 21:44
  • How about "campaign" as in, "the politician campaigned in ..."? (Kidding) – Matt M Jan 23 '17 at 17:10
  • 1
    Although it's not an exact match for what you want, I'm kind of fond of bloviate, because it sounds so much like what's going on: Talk at length, especially in an inflated or empty way. – Hot Licks Jan 23 '17 at 23:52
  • neither bragging nor boasting imply falsehood. – user175542 Jan 24 '17 at 22:39
  • Another great word—and one that works both as a verb and as a noun—is blather. As a verb: "to talk foolishly at length—often used with on." As a noun: "voluble nonsensical or inconsequential talk or writing." Both definitions are from Merriam-Webster's Eleventh Collegiate Dictionary (2003). – Sven Yargs Jan 25 '17 at 6:14

13 Answers 13

36

A possible idiom is "trumping [it] up". From Merriam-Webster:

Definition of trump up

transitive verb

1: to concoct especially with intent to deceive : fabricate, invent

2 archaic: to cite as support for an action or claim

  • 14
    At first I thought this was a joke. Personification? Allusion? Or perhaps an example of anthropomorphism, but no, this is literally true and perfect! – Coomie Jan 23 '17 at 6:34
  • 15
    This particular phrase carries a heavy implied meaning of a fabricated accusation (ie: ...the defendant denied the allegations and dismissed the trumped-up charges as wild exaggerations). – J... Jan 23 '17 at 11:14
  • 10
    @J... I think we'll see it come to have a somewhat more broad connotation in the days to come. – gntskn Jan 23 '17 at 20:48
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    I'm used to hearing this in a legal environment like saying someone was arrested on "trump-ed up charges" – Kodos Johnson Jan 23 '17 at 22:52
  • 3
    I get the humor, but this phrase isn't commonly used today in the sense the OP describes. At least not in American English. Maybe in 3 or 4 years. – jpmc26 Jan 24 '17 at 23:35
26

Full of hot air

A person who is full of hot air is a person who talks a lot but whose words carry no substance. This does not always refer to outright lies (It can, of course.), but if not, the claim in question is so unrelated, confused, exaggerated, or misleading that the person may as well be lying. This phrase is informal, dismissive, and somewhat insulting.

The phrase has variations on "hot air":

  • it
  • bull
  • Expletives referring to excrement
  • A combination of the last two: "bull [expletive]"
  • beans (This can also mean that something is lively, though. So only use if the context makes it clear you wouldn't be saying that.)

Naturally, the versions containing curse words express greater discontent with the person.

  • Don't forget "waffle" – user3306356 Jan 23 '17 at 8:27
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    You can write BS or someone is full of bull shit within answers, if they answer the question. These won't be censored. – Mari-Lou A Jan 23 '17 at 11:17
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    "Full of beans" also has another meaning of "lively" or "in high spirits", so it may not be the best choice. (In fact, I had only ever heard it in this other sense until I looked it up just now.) – Michael Seifert Jan 23 '17 at 17:26
  • 1
    yeah, someone full of hot air is almost always full of pride, whether it's about themselves or just being a know it all. I feel that in the word.. just depends on how it needs to be used – Tom22 Jan 24 '17 at 2:51
  • 1
    Someone full of hot air has an inflated view of himself. – Kys Jan 24 '17 at 18:15
19

self-aggrandizing

freedictionary.com self-aggrandizing

Also found in: Thesaurus. self-ag·gran·dize·ment (sĕlf′ə-grăn′dĭz-mənt) n.

The act or practice of enhancing or exaggerating one's own importance, power, or reputation.

It is the exaggeration and enhancing that make the boast untrue

  • 3
    There is no connotation of falsehood here as requested by the OP. – Mitch Jan 23 '17 at 20:46
  • 1
    'enhancing' or 'exaggerating' is a degree of falsehood ... perhaps not enough for the OPs desire though. I'll put it this way... you'd call a aggrandizing person 'full of sh**' while a boastful person would just be "full of themselves" : ) . I'd have to understand the conotations of the chinese word as used in china to know if it gave any clue of what type of lie they made. – Tom22 Jan 23 '17 at 22:17
  • This is particularly relevant as the director of the CIA said Donald Trump was self-aggrandising. – BladorthinTheGrey Jan 27 '17 at 22:02
17

Bluster.

Blustering has a very similar meaning to bragging, but it implies that the blusterer can't back it up. It's usually used in a context of threats, but works fine elsewhere.

You might also be looking for "vainglory," which is archaic, but has a very similar meaning to what you describe, or "boor," which is an annoying person, usually someone who makes such claims.

Finally, if you're looking for the most direct match, you're probably looking for "pathological liar," but that is a fairly unpleasant thing to call someone, and you may want to avoid it.

16

Tell a fish story. That a boastful fib (lie), or at the very least a great exaggeration.

fish story and fish tale

Fig. a great big lie. (Like a fisherman who exaggerates the size of the fish that got away.)

  • That's just a fish story.

  • Don't try to fool me. He's a master at the fish tale. Maybe he should be a politician.

fish story

An improbable, boastful tale, as in He came up with some fish story about his winnings at the track. This expression alludes to the tendency of fishermen to exaggerate the size of their catch. [Early 1800s]

-- The Free Dictionary

(See also bluster, blowhard.)

  • 3
    Alternatively, telling tall tales. – alcedine Jan 23 '17 at 12:28
13

Blowing Smoke

or

to Blow Smoke

Definitions from Idioms.TheFreeDictionary.com:

  1. To deceive others. "He wanted everyone to believe he had a lot of experience, but I think he was just blowing smoke." Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms Copyright ©2003.

  2. To say things that are not true in order to make yourself or something you are involved with seem better than it is. "The team put on an unbelievable performance. I'm not just blowing smoke - they were great." Cambridge Idioms Dictionary, 2nd ed. Copyright ©2006.

  3. tv. To state something in a way that conceals the truth. (see also smoke and mirrors.) "She is a master at blowing smoke. She belongs in government."

  4. tv. To smoke marijuana. (Drugs.) "Frank sits around blowing smoke when he’s not selling." McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright ©2006

  5. To speak deceptively.

  6. To brag or exaggerate. American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright ©2016 ##Blowing Smoke / to Blow Smoke##
  • 2
    You probably just want to edit your changes into this answer rather than submit an entirely new answer. That way you can maintain your reputation already earned on this one. – Mitch Jan 27 '17 at 21:20
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    @Mitch With a new account also...why done with a new account? lol – Hank Jan 27 '17 at 21:39
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    @Jean (and Jean) if you have created two accounts, please see the Help about how to unite them. – Andrew Leach Jan 29 '17 at 22:27
11

If you want a single word, I can only think of the crass bullshit. It's not a word you can say in mixed company. It's euphemism is simply "bull". As a noun and verb it very much implies complete lies, with connotations of intention to deceive.

Common phrases include:

That's a load of bullshit!

He's just giving me bullshit.

Quit bullshitting me! or Don't bullshit me!

I bullshit the whole way through that interview.

I smell bullshit.

Less commonly, you might also see horseshit or just plain shit.

Synonyms might include the following, but they all lack a certain zing you get from bullshit (possibly because it's a curse). I've put the ones I believe closer in meaning at the top.

  • hogwash
  • bunk
  • baloney
  • rubbish
  • crap
  • flim-flam
  • malarkey
  • phooey
  • poppycock

None of these, including bullshit, must connote boasting, but they certainly don't exclude it. They do all imply falsities, however, given the right context.

In a commerce context, there is puffery. It fits boasting, but not really "entire lies", and using it outside of someone trying to sell something is out of place. If the context fits, I'd use it.

I suspect that the common phrase "You gotta be shitting me" has it's roots in bullshit, however, that phrase is more commonly used to announce amazement at recently received news.

  • 1
    Beat me to it. The person who is a "lying bragdart" is also called a "bullshit artist" in my country of Australia :-D "What a load of bull dust" is also used as a euphemism for a load of baloney. – traktor53 Jan 24 '17 at 9:36
  • If they want a verb that is useful in polite company, "hogwashing" sounds the best to me from the list. – Guy Schalnat Jan 25 '17 at 12:42
  • Please note that the NeoAmerican Church made a very clear distinction between BullShit and HorseShit, Horseshit perhaps being more nearly what's in question here. I lost track of my copy of the catchism sometime before Woodstock, and can't (for some reason...) recall the details at the moment. – mickeyf Jan 25 '17 at 15:33
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    Another idea for the list of common variants: urbandictionary.com/… – k1eran May 18 '18 at 19:51
7

You could describe the character as a braggart (obviously a noun derived from the verb "brag.") https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/braggart

You could describe the behaviour as braggadocio - which looks like an Italian word, but is actually derived from the name of a character in a 16th-century English poem. https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/braggadocio

A person who fantasizes about a life much more exciting and glamorous than their own could be described as like Walter Mitty or Mittyish. https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/walter_mitty https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/mittyish

  • The story was entitled "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" so while there was a lot of untruth to the stories Mitty told, he only told them to himself which I think is different than what is wanted here. – Al Maki Jan 27 '17 at 21:00
  • +1 Braggadocio can actually be used to described the person and the thing being done, in fact. – Noldorin Feb 8 at 0:06
5

It sounds like they "talk the talk but don't walk the walk":

If you say that someone talks the talk but does not walk the walk, you mean that they do not act in a way that agrees with the things they say.

When it comes to recycling he talks the talk but he doesn't walk the walk.

  • 1
    This implies hypocrisy, not boasting. – Chris Hayes Jan 24 '17 at 2:12
3

I think the phrase false pretence(s) fits the bill, unless I'm mistaken.

From Google:

Pretence: a claim to have a particular skill or quality.

  • pretence is faking so false pretence would be like saying "false faking": meaning telling the truth. -1 – P. O. Jan 22 '17 at 18:41
  • If you do something under false pretenses, you do it when people do not know the truth about you and your intentions→HarperCollins Advanced English Dictionary – freeling10 Jan 22 '17 at 18:53
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    @P.O. "False pretences" is a standard English expression, even though it does seem tautological. en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/false_pretences. It refers particularly to deceiving other people with criminal intent (to commit fraud. etc). The word "pretence" on its own doesn't necessarily imply any "bad" motive. – alephzero Jan 22 '17 at 22:37
1

If the lies take the form of stories about himself then you'd say he spins yarns, or if he just says he can do stuff that he can't do you'd call him a blowhard or perhaps even a windbag. If he's bragging about morality you'd call him holier-than-thou.

If it's more bragging about his (false) achievements or so you'd call that bluster.

You could probably get a good distance describing the man as a conman or con artist as long as you use it as an insult. Confidence tricks take lots of subtle forms and probably someone who literally brags about himself would not be a good confidence trickster, but if it's just an insult it probably communicates something similar.

In slang you might say "he talks a big game" as shorthand for "he talks a big game but he ain't all that." If he poses as tougher than he is by making threats that he'll never follow through on, you'd say "his bark is worse than his bite."

1

I would probably say that the speaker is "telling a tall tale".

Now, since 吹牛 literally means "to blow (up a) cow(skin raft)", some good alternatives might be:

  • blowing smoke
  • full of hot air
  • bullsh*tting

Since these preserve some imagery from the original Chinese.

-1

Pretentious: adjective

Attempting to impress by affecting greater importance or merit than is actually possessed.

protected by tchrist Jan 21 '18 at 18:11

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