At times when someone doesn't want to hang out, they usually say

Person 2: Can we hangout?

Person 1 :Uhmm.. I have this thing , that i have to do

Person 2: "Yeah me too,Bye"

In this case Person 1 doesn't really have something to do and is subtly lying to person 2, to avoid hanging out. Person 2 pickups on the disinterest and ends the conversation.

Is there a word for what Person 1 did. Which is essentially lying in hopes that the repondents pick up on the bad lie as a hint to avoid further confrontation/questioning. Or a word for the the intentional obvious lie. Almost being similar to passive aggressive but not quite.

Can be single word or phrase

Example in a sentence

John always makes _____ when asked about work.


John always _____ when asked about his love life.

  • Your description does not sound the same as your title. A bad intentional lie is a lie. Waffling a bit, not saying exactly, not really saying an outright lie but maybe misleading, that's not a bad lie, especially in this instance. Also, all lies are intentional, by definition. If a misstatement, a statement that is false, if it is uttered by someone who doesn't realize that it is wrong, who doesn't say it intentionally to be wrong, that is not a lie; it is an error of some kind. Intention is central to lying.
    – Mitch
    Oct 5, 2018 at 18:32
  • I think sour grapes or saving face are appropriate, but don't necessarily require a lie.
    – jimm101
    Oct 5, 2018 at 18:47
  • I am writing it as a comment, because I'm not sure myself. But I would say that's sarcasm.
    – BenL
    Oct 5, 2018 at 20:22
  • 3
    @Mitch I suspect the OP means "an intentionally obvious lie" (a "bad" lie in this case is one that is easy to recognize as a lie, rather than very serious or consequential). James Up, can you clarify what you mean by "bad" here? I think it may change the answers you get.
    – 1006a
    Oct 5, 2018 at 22:47
  • @1006a clarified up a bit :)
    – Bob Kimani
    Oct 6, 2018 at 14:56

2 Answers 2


I would say prevaricate is close to what you’re looking for only because of Merriam-Webster’s “Did You Know?” which I will now cite:

Prevaricate and its synonyms "lie" and "equivocate" all refer to playing fast and loose with the truth. "Lie" is the bluntest of the three. When you accuse someone of lying, you are saying he or she was intentionally dishonest, no bones about it. "Prevaricate" is less accusatory and softens the bluntness of "lie," usually implying that someone is evading the truth rather than purposely making false statements. "Equivocate" is similar to "prevaricate," but it generally implies that someone is deliberately using words that have more than one meaning as a way to conceal the truth.

The bolded part is my emphasis.

Here’s the truth of the matter: A lie is a lie no matter how you look at it. There may be elevated words synonymous with lie, but if a person tells an untruth it is called lying.


You ask for a word where:

the bad lie... [is] a hint to avoid further confrontation/questioning

Not a single word but, otherwise, white lie seems to meet your needs:

white lie

COBUILD Advanced English Dictionary:

If you refer to an untrue statement as a white lie, you mean that it is made to avoid hurting someone's feelings or to avoid trouble, and not for an evil purpose.

British (Collins):

a minor or unimportant lie, esp one uttered in the interests of tact or politeness

American (Webster):

a lie concerning a trivial matter, often one told to spare someone's feelings

A white lie might be to avoid loss of face for either party or for both. Feigning a prior engagement to avoid openly refusing an invitation would be a white lie, as would telling someone that their hideous new dress was nice. Responding to an inquiry about work or health with a very general, short, closed, positive answer could be a white lie to avoid an awkward truth or a subject one would rather not discuss.

Wikipedia expands on their positive aspects, saying:

White lies are minor lies which could be considered harmless, or even beneficial, in the long term. White lies are also considered to be used for greater good (pro-social behavior). White lies are often used to shield someone from a hurtful or emotionally damaging truth, especially when not knowing the truth is completely harmless.

By this view, a white lie might, at times, be a very trivial form of the noble lie.

There are others views, of course. A Google Books search for "white lie" led me to this gem:

“A white lie!” she responded, “what is a white lie?”

“Don't you know?” asked Katie.

“No, nor you either.”

“But I do,” said Katie.

“Well, now, what is it?”

“Why," said Katie — “why, a white lie—a white lie—is is—a black lie with a white dress on.”

The Ladies' Repository, Volume 17 (1857), page 62

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