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I'm looking for a phrase or idiom for when someone is making up some tragic story to excuse themselves (such as: "Sorry I didn't show up; my father was diagnosed with cancer".. or "I can't keep our appointment; guess what I lost my job!"). And I got to think of a danish expression; "talking for one's sick auntie"; although that expression usually means doing a lot of talk to achieve some benefit. But my focus was particularly on making up excuses, and I was wondering if there might be a similar expression in english?

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  • Not a phrase, but this is typically referred to as a sob story
    – Alex W
    Mar 16, 2020 at 2:13

1 Answer 1

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The expression I always use in this situation is "The dog ate my homework!"

For example, someone gives a pathetic excuse for something, and the response is an ironic reply of "The dog ate my homework!" usually accompanied by eye-rolling.

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  • Another doggy did it: A 'shaggy dog story,' a long-winded tale of low substance sometimes used to tire the listener into accepting the story. Mar 15, 2017 at 15:00
  • Good, but a shaggy dog story is not necessarily an excuse, it can be any long-winded story. Mar 15, 2017 at 15:02
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    Yes, you are right, and your answer is better than my comment, so I upvoted yours and have no other excuse. Mar 15, 2017 at 15:07
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    Ah yes, I recall having heard that before. And I believe that's exactly the kind of expression I was looking for. - Thank you very much, both of you. :)
    – RP Nielsen
    Mar 15, 2017 at 16:14
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    I'd be pleased to.. is there an "accept" button or something? - I'm completely new to the site.
    – RP Nielsen
    Apr 4, 2017 at 15:20

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