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What's a word for when someone is wrong, and they know they're wrong, but they insist that they are right?

EDIT: If someone does something and you know they did it, and they know they did it, but they keep telling everyone they didn't do it, and they go out of their way to try and convince others that they didn't do it.

(Example: Someone steals your dog. You know it's your dog. Your dog knows he's your dog. But the thief goes around saying its their dog and produces false receipts or photos (of other dogs), etc.)

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    Is this argument still going on as you type? :-)
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Sep 26, 2011 at 16:22
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    This question is hard for me to follow. They know they're wrong but they think they're right?
    – Jeremy
    Commented Sep 26, 2011 at 16:27
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    Which is it, do they think they're right or wrong? Commented Sep 26, 2011 at 16:28
  • The technical term is confused.
    – Unreason
    Commented Sep 26, 2011 at 16:41
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    I believe the word is "politician."
    – xpda
    Commented Sep 26, 2011 at 20:20

8 Answers 8

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The person is definitely a liar. If they really are believing the lie, then they might even be delusional.

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  • Thank you! Delusions of Grandeur is actually what I was thinking of but couldn't remember. Commented Sep 26, 2011 at 17:47
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    "Deluded" is a way to back off the clinical label of "delusional", too.
    – JeffSahol
    Commented Sep 26, 2011 at 17:48
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    @Rodeo: A delusion of grandeur is a false impression of one's importance; more like like lying to yourself than to another. Commented Sep 26, 2011 at 19:07
  • Delusions of grandeur is definitely not an answer to the question as it's currently stated. It's not even this answer. I think you think you're right, but you're actually wrong.
    – jimm101
    Commented Sep 28, 2022 at 19:30
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As @jimreed says, such a person is a liar. This basically covers all contexts where someone says something that they know is untrue. But OP is specifically looking for a way to describe a liar who is aware that at least some other people know for certain that what he says untrue.

The most common terms for the specific context are brazen and barefaced liar, both of which occur about equally. Both these adjectives are also commonly applied to the lie itself, but for some reason barefaced lie is more common than brazen lie.

A common coarse slang term that comes to mind is bullshitter. I'm not saying Urban Dictionary is always a reliable authority, but I can't fault the example in definition 7 there - Someone who will claim he drank 2 litres of vodka and was not drunk.

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  • +1 with caveat: personally I feel that BRAZEN is more fitting to what the OP is looking for (as in "stupidly bold"). To me, BAREFACED denotes that most people don't believe the lie. The lie is so obvious, it is "written on the liar's bare face". Commented Sep 26, 2011 at 20:19
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    @Martin S. Stoller: I didn't say so in the answer, but I personally would probably normally call someone a brazen liar, and accuse them of coming out with a barefaced lie. If you'd habitually make that subtle distinction between them, you're a more precise speaker than me. I'd just use my two pairings practically every time because they're what rolls off my tongue. Which makes sense with barefaced lie, because I'd hear that more. I think I say brazen liar because I also say brazen hussy, so I'm more used to applying brazen to people, not to lies. Commented Sep 27, 2011 at 1:18
  • ...plus whilst I like the idea of written on the liar's bare face, I don't think the *guilt written all over your face interpretation directly relates to the origin of barefaced, which is simply beardless, undisguised. Commented Sep 27, 2011 at 2:08
  • Have you noticed how variants on barefaced lie/liar have been cropping up of late? You now see boldfaced and even baldfaced showing up a good deal, mostly over the last 30–40 years. Ngrams here and here. Plus rerun as a single unhyphenated word for even more of a neologistic shift.
    – tchrist
    Commented Jul 29, 2012 at 14:39
  • @tchrist: Strange: The absolute numbers are unexpectedly high. Still swamped by the "correct" version, but definitely on the rise. You can see why though - take out the word "faced", and "a lie" is more likely to be bold or bald than bare Commented Jul 29, 2012 at 14:55
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'Pig-headed' is the word I'd use.

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  • pigheadedness, yes.
    – Lambie
    Commented Sep 28, 2022 at 20:29
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If he knows is wrong, but is trying to prevent others from detecting the wrongness, he is being deceitful .

You may also call him a fabricator, a liar, or a whitewasher — although that less connotes lying about knowing the truth than of glossing over a transgression.

The act, by the way, is called scapegoating.

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  • +1 deceitful. I would have also said dishonest.
    – MrWhite
    Commented Sep 26, 2011 at 20:38
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What's a word for when someone is wrong, and they know they're wrong, but they insist that they are right?

If they're wrong about an issue involving the knowledge of some subject, but insist they are right, it could be an example of the Dunning-Kruger Effect (involving an overblown estimate of one's own expertise in defiance of data to the contrary) or an instance of cognitive dissonance (involving the inability, or unwillingness, to process new data because it disrupts earlier beliefs).

If it involves something material, such as stolen dog example above, the earlier responses of "liar" and its variants all seem correct.

"In denial" seems to cover both categories listed above.

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Like the square root of two, such a person is irrational.

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    I wouldn't use irrational. You can behave in such a way and be very rational (if you are doing it in a malicious way).
    – nico
    Commented Oct 23, 2011 at 17:36
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Assuming he knows he's wrong (your question isn't clear on this): obstinate, stubborn, unswayable.

If he isn't sure whether he's right or keeps changing his mind: confused, wishy-washy.

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  • Sorry, I edited the question a little. Yes, the person knows he's in the wrong but is going overboard to try and prove he's right. Commented Sep 26, 2011 at 16:54
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10+ year update, just want to add that another (now more commonly heard) answer to this question is "Gaslighting".

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