There are things that are seemingly OK but have problems within. For instance a food might seem OK but be poisonous. Or a translation might seem OK but in fact be awful since it has omitted or changed the main message. How can we describe such things? Even people might be seemingly nice but internally wicked!

I am particularly interested for words/phrases/idioms that describe the above-mentioned like translations.

For example:

This translations is the word I am looking for, it seems OK but actually says something completely different to what the original sentence says!

I am interested especially in a word with a formal register, which is suitable to be written in an academic text. Is outwardly good/flawless a good fit?

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    A 'sugar-coated pill' is something that is good but tastes bad and is therefore made palatable. I think you are looking for something like 'sugar-coated poison' - it is made palatable but in fact it is detrimental. – Nigel J May 17 '18 at 13:56
  • @NigelJ Very interesting! But this word implies that someone has done that deliberately and poison is a very strong word. Can you provide more equivalents? – Juya May 17 '18 at 14:06
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    Deceptive mistranslation is how I would word it, myself. – Nigel J May 17 '18 at 16:18

How about misleading?

: to lead in a wrong direction or into a mistaken action or belief often by deliberate deceit [Merriam-Webster's].

Donald Trump gave the American press misleading information in order to support his twisted agenda.

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"Superficially good" fits the translation example, but not the poison so much. Other options are "apparently", "seemingly", "to first appearances".

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A commonly used phrase for this situation is: appearances can be deceiving


appearances can be deceiving
Appearances do not always convey accurate information.
That house sure looks beautiful on the outside, but appearances can be deceiving. What did the inspector say about the foundation?

Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

It is formal enough to be used in academic texts as can be seen by the examples at: Google search for "appearances can be deceiving" in scholarly articles

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