Talking out of the side of your mouth

This means one is lying, right? Or something else?

  • Not necessarily. It could mean speaking privately to someone while in the presence of others.
    – Robusto
    Oct 12, 2011 at 2:04
  • I would agree with @Robusto, it's more like trying to keep a conversation private from others nearby. You may be confused with phrases such as "talking out his arse", which means something more akin to lying or speaking nonsense. Oct 12, 2011 at 2:11

4 Answers 4


It means trying to keep a heated or private conversation private in a place where there's a risk that it may be heard, as Robusto suggested. Check this out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cUKJWsnAAXs&feature=related&t=1m03s (one minute and 3 seconds).


I know that "talk out of both sides of your mouth" is a particular idiom used to explain the act of saying different things to different people about the same subject, so I have always associated this expression with the synonym "lying"...


Basically, it means saying one thing but meaning a different thing. For example if you were strong arming someone you could say something like "It's in your best interest to comply." with it being understood that violence is implied without actually mentioning violence.


To "talk out of both sides of (your) mouth" is to tell different parties different things. This would be akin to lying.

To try to maintain contradictory positions or beliefs in an attempt to please the most people. "We all know that you've been talking out of both sides of your mouth about the merger, so please, just tell us the truth.Will there be layoffs or not?"
"I don't trust that candidate—he still hasn't committed to a clear course of action and is always talking out of both sides of his mouth."

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