Looking for an expression, idiom, or phrase that would indicate a lie is being told, or was told, etc.

I will not be using this phrase as part of a sentence, so I can't give an example. I just wanted a phrase that would convey this meaning. Some examples of what I am looking for include "to spin yarn" and "what a tangled web we weave". Thanks.

closed as primarily opinion-based by Hot Licks, Lawrence, Tonepoet, lbf, AmE speaker Jan 6 at 5:22

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    Sir Walter Scott: Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive. – Peter Shor Jan 5 at 23:24
  • So you're looking for an expression to refer to someone (or some thing) of questionable veracity, suggesting mendacity or prevarication? – Hot Licks Jan 5 at 23:25
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    What exactly is wrong with I lied? If you're not going to use it in a sentence, how are you gong to use it? – Jason Bassford Jan 5 at 23:30
  • I am going to use it on it's own, as the sentence. – peabody2 Jan 5 at 23:36
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    @peabody2 You mean a one-word sentence, consisting of this word? I'm finding it difficult to understand you. Can you let us have a bit more context? – WS2 Jan 6 at 0:03

If you want a fairly direct phrase, you can use:

He lies like a rug.

And you can use that in past tense, or a continuous tense, as well.

Google Ngrams seems to show that this is predominantly used in American English, but I suspect people in the U.K. will understand it, as well.

If you want a phrase that doesn't sound insulting to the liar, it might be a little tougher to come up with one.


Some useful phrases:

  • to lie through one's teeth = to lie
  • Janus-faced = hypocritical, showing different people different selves
  • Artful Dodger = a forger
  • to spin a yarn = to tell a false tale
  • Judas / quisling / Benedict Arnold / turncoat = a traitor
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    And I'm sure Samuel Clemens had 100 others in Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. – Hot Licks Jan 6 at 0:59

If you’re looking for something that’s both playful and a reference to a classic piece of Italian literature you can use:

Your nose is growing
An expression used to confront someone for telling a lie, a reference to the Pinocchio puppet


This expression can go even further. If someone just told a lot of lies, you can say that their nose is so long it just hit you in the face. A good example of this can be found here.

  • Actually, it's a reference to a classic American cartoon, by Jiminy! – Hot Licks Jan 6 at 0:58

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