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I'm looking to translate two very similar, but subtly different words from Romanian into English. The words are "tertip" and "păcăleală", if that's any help.

They both can be roughly translated into the result of tricking, fooling or deceiving someone.
The first is the act of tricking someone while having a definite nefarious intent in mind.
The second involves tricking someone in a naive, harmless way or presenting someone with a lie that both know is a lie, but both are comfortable pretending it is not.

Examples for the first, malevolent variation:

  • The trick of entering the building with a fake ID proved to be wondrous.
  • The trick of deceiving the mayor into signing the fake papers made him an unwilling accomplice to the crime.

Now for the second, naive or self-deceiving one:

  • The trick (farce) he played on his little sister when he told her the sun was out and they needed to buy a new one was very funny.
  • The lie (as in self-consolation) the fox tells itself when it cannot reach the ripe grapes is that they would have been sour anyway.

The reason I chose to illustrate both meanings for the second word is that (self)deceit would have worked for it if it were not for that nuance of mild in Romanian. You can view this subtle difference as the one between a straight-up lie and a "white" lie.

Now, do you know any words that would fit these criteria or will I have to settle for a more generic word from the ones mentioned in the beginning?

Thank you in advance!

  • I think deception matches each of these examples, unfortunately. – Davo May 23 '17 at 20:36
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    "The trick (farce) he played on his little sister..." The word "prank" specifically refers to this kind of deception. Though it sounds like you're looking for a word that encompasses both this and white lies. – eyeballfrog May 23 '17 at 21:32
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    You could use "scam" in the first two. Really I think "trick" is a little light-weight to be used in those examples and fits the bottom ones more. – Tom22 May 23 '17 at 21:38
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    I found the question intriguing. But then I went to the dictionary and thesaurus to open them up and bring up some options. And I realized that the OP could do, and should have done, the same. Based on the what the OP has written, this question is no more than a dictionary and thesaurus search. – Corvus B Jul 26 '17 at 23:42
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Here are some words that might be better alternatives to be used in your first example.

  1. Chicanery (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/chicanery).

  2. Subterfuge (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/subterfuge).

For the latter part- "Self-deception" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-deception) can be a good option to define a lie told in self-consolation.

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ploy fits the OP's first meaning:

The first is the act of tricking someone while having a definite nefarious intent in mind

ploy, defined by the Cambridge English Dictionary as:

something that is done or said, often dishonestly, in order to get an advantage; a trick

ploy fits nicely into the OP's first two example sentences, but it would not fit at all into the OP's second two sentences, which illustrate innocent tricks.

I'd use joke for the third sentence, and it could possibly fit in the fourth sentence, but not as well.

The joke he played on his little sister when he told her the sun was out and they needed to buy a new one was very funny.

The joke the fox tells itself when it cannot reach the ripe grapes is that they would have been sour anyway.

joke, in the Cambridge English Dictionary

something, such as an amusing story or trick, that is said or done in order to make people laugh

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When a trick is done with good intentions, it could be called a prank, practical joke, or something similarly connotated with something kids would do. Mostly there are words meaning trick with negative connotations, like dupe, deception, scheme, or hoax.

I don't know Romanian, but based on your definition, I would define tertip as a dupe and I would define păcăleală as a joke.

I could define self-consolation similarly as a dupe, but in the context used with the fox, it could be consolation as well. However generally, consolation wouldn't be used as a synonym to trick. Self-consolation is different than the other word I suggested.

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Cajole. Con. Seduce. Flimflam. Recruit, as in" recruited help for my escape." Knowingly or unknowingly Outwit. Conspire. Unwitting accomplice. Tricked into helping Accomplice. Knowingly going along with trick/s

  • Please explain why these are good words. – Andrew Leach Sep 11 '17 at 11:29

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