‘Liar’ doesn’t have an antonym NOUN, and ‘honest’ doesn’t have an antonym ADJECTIVE. The best antonym I could find is ‘a cheating honesty’. Is this correct?

  • The phrase honest liar makes no sense to me. Please provide a reference to its meaning, or at least an example. (A literal antonym of the phrase would be a lying straight-shooter.) Commented Jan 27, 2019 at 22:34
  • There is probably only one honest lie: “I never tell the truth”. ‘Honest liar’ is a self-contradictory notion. There is an obvious opposite of ‘honest’: ‘dishonest’. There is no such opposite of ‘liar’. Merriam tries a rather desperate and clumsy ‘square shooter’, but there obviously cannot be enough George Washingtons in the world for ‘truthar’ or any other such noun to have a use.
    – Tuffy
    Commented Jan 27, 2019 at 22:38
  • Dishonest non-liar. Makes more sense than the original, though.
    – 1006a
    Commented Jan 27, 2019 at 22:50

1 Answer 1


An Honest Liar is someone who uses deception or trickery in order to reveal the truth. A classic example would be stage magician James Randi, who for decades has used his skills in deception and misdirection to expose fraudulent psychics and pseudoscientists. "An Honest Liar" is in fact the title of a recent biography of Mr. Randi. Here's the IMDB listing

The opposite of that would be someone who uses truthful statements for the purposes of deception. In other words, we're looking for someone who deliberately twists facts to draw false conclusions. One word that describes that activity is paltering. This Forbes article defines the word as "the active use of truthful statements to influence a target’s beliefs by giving a false or distorted impression".

Extending this to a noun, we could say that one who engages in paltering is a palterer.

  • I think this is commonly and perhaps imprecisely called a hypocrite. Does that make the honest liar a hyper.critical person? A hypo crit is someone who doesn't hold himself to the same standards as he himself holds to others. Then a hypercrit would expect more of themselves as from others. In other words, he expects others to fall for his tricks. But a hypocrite would, too, do that, they wouldn't necessarily be aware of that, if that's part of the hypocrisy. I think it works.
    – vectory
    Commented Jan 28, 2019 at 1:51

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