Consider this hypothetical scenario:

  1. You make plans with a significant other
  2. They bail on you because they are too tired
  3. You find out they went out with someone else
  4. You ask, despite knowing the answer, "did you end up going to sleep early last night?"
  5. They respond, "Ya"
  6. You respond, "That was a(n) _________ question"

I don't think it's rhetorical because you're expecting an answer. However, the question is asked for a different purpose than a traditional question since it's a test to see if the friend (or whomever) will lie or tell the truth. Is there a name for this type of question? Like... "unveiling question" or "truth-seeking question"?


The goal of this question is to determine whether the other party will speak the known truth. With that said, it is not a:

  • trick question. There is a correct and obvious answer
  • loaded question. There is no assumption - it is factual
  • trap question. The question can't expose ignorance since both parties know the answer.
  • interrogation. This is too generalized for what I'm looking for. "To question thoroughly"
  • prompt. This isn't a means to encourage a hesitant speaker

I'm unsure of whether "leading" is correct. To me, a leading question is one where the questioner doesn't actually have an answer to the question, and also needs to make the question specific for legal reasons. Whereas the questioner in my scenario above knows the answer, and doesn't necessarily have to ask a specific question, but rather uses it to expedite the unveiling process since the question in itself is a guise for an ulterior goal.

Also, I'm not looking for a general saying, nor an idiom - I'm looking to fill the blank in my scenario. Similar to how one would ask a rhetorical question where the questioned party answers, you would respond stating, "That was a rhetorical question."

EDIT #2:

I'm not looking for a word to describe the question (appending a word to "question"), but rather a word that is the type of question, but also flows well with the sentence and atmosphere. I'm essentially hoping/looking for something like "rhetorical question," but for this context.

If someone asks a rhetorical question and someone answers it, you can state that it's a rhetorical question, which is both the type of question, as well as a standalone explanation where the other party immediately understands that the question was unneeded. However, in this context, I want this type of question to make the other party immediately understand that they made a mistake and are in trouble, without having to add additional explanation.


6 Answers 6


It's a "leading" question or an "interrogating" question. It is designed to prompt a specific confirmatory response.

However, if those seem too general or insufficient, you might consider "verifying", "substantiating", or "confirmatory" as adequate answers. The truth is already known and verification/confirmation is sought.

6.You respond, "That was a(n) verifying question"

6.You respond, "That was a(n) confirmatory question"

  • Very close, but still not what I'm looking for. I've edited the question with my reasons. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong on anything though.
    – Xeki
    Commented Mar 11, 2019 at 18:16
  • I'm not looking to append a separate word to "question" in order to make something work in this context, but rather a legitimate type of question. Otherwise I'd just go with "That was an Ackbar question" (jk) :P
    – Xeki
    Commented Mar 13, 2019 at 15:42
  • Oh really? I thought your published "hypothetical scenario" specified everything correctly: "6.You respond, "That was a(n) _________ question". @Xeki you apparently need to edit the original question. Assuming you do edit it, I should then probably propose - "interrogation, verification, substantiation, or confirmation" as stand alone words. Have a good day.
    – user22542
    Commented Mar 13, 2019 at 16:15
  • I added additional explanation. Sorry for the confusion.
    – Xeki
    Commented Mar 14, 2019 at 16:26
  • Your question has become a maze to interpret. Start over again from scratch. If you want a single word - it's an "inquisition". If you want a descriptive word for your "question", then it is an "inquisitional question".
    – user22542
    Commented Mar 14, 2019 at 20:04

I thought of three words that may be appropriate for what you’re trying to achieve; those words are: baited, provocative, and goad.

I know it's not the best source, but urbandictionary.com defines baited as, "To be lured into a situation which exposes a person for something they may have wanted to keep hidden or never knew about themselves." Because you are trying to expose whether the person will be honest or not, a suggestion for your final response with this option could be, "That was a baited question."

As for provocative questions, coachingfederation.org says “they may create more of an emotional stir with the intent to stimulate a reaction, a thought or emotion in someone, or incite a certain thought or feeling.” If not, “That was a provocative question/question of provocation”, a suggestion for your final response with this option could also be, “That question was meant to provoke an answer.”

You’ll find that Google’s dictionary (provided by Oxford Languages) says the definition of goad is to, “provoke or annoy (someone) so as to stimulate some action or reaction.” A suggestion for your final response with this option could be, “That question was to goad you into telling either the truth or a lie.”

  • Hi Jenna. If you need to embolden and/or italicize specific words/phrases, you can select that specific text and hit Ctrl+B and/or Ctrl+I as needed. You can also use the B and I options in the text editor. See this Help page for more details on how to format your posts.
    – Justin
    Commented Apr 10, 2022 at 5:36

I wonder if what you're really looking for is the answer that you know, or the name of a question that you ask to check on someone. You could say that it was really a test.

In the event of catching a lying partner, you would say that you are performing a test since you know the truth and are testing to see if they will speak the truth or lie instead. Because you know the truth, and the other person knows the truth, but they might not know you know the truth, we're testing their truthfulness.


A: Did you go to sleep early last night?
B: Yeah, I was tired.
A: That was a test. I know you didn't.
(argument ensues)

  • This certainly flows well with the sentence and atmosphere, so this would be a good alternative, but I'm more concerned with what type of question it is (if there is one) and being able to state it with the same feeling/flow as this. Much like the example in this question, saying, "that was a rhetorical question --" would flow well with the sentence and atmosphere, _and is also the type of question and not simply an appended word to describe the question... Hopefully that makes sense lol
    – Xeki
    Commented Mar 14, 2019 at 16:12

I think I would call it a type of loaded question. The reason I say "type of" is because it doesn't exactly fit the more common understanding of "loaded question", which is described by Wikipedia as:

Aside from being an informal fallacy depending on usage, such questions may be used as a rhetorical tool: the question attempts to limit direct replies to be those that serve the questioner's agenda.[2] The traditional example is the question "Have you stopped beating your wife?" Whether the respondent answers yes or no, he will admit to having a wife and having beaten her at some time in the past. Thus, these facts are presupposed by the question, and in this case an entrapment, because it narrows the respondent to a single answer, and the fallacy of many questions has been committed.[2] The fallacy relies upon context for its effect: the fact that a question presupposes something does not in itself make the question fallacious. Only when some of these presuppositions are not necessarily agreed to by the person who is asked the question does the argument containing them become fallacious.[2] Hence the same question may be loaded in one context, but not in the other. For example, the previous question would not be loaded if it were asked during a trial in which the defendant had already admitted to beating his wife.[2]

However, the OP's question is "loaded", in that the person being questioned is not fully aware that the questioner has a wider agenda in asking it. It sounds innocent enough, but is loaded with implication, and it is likely to explode!

  • I can understand your interpretation of "loaded question," but I have not seen any reference to this alternative definition of "loaded question." Are you able to provide any cites to support this?
    – Xeki
    Commented Mar 14, 2019 at 17:30
  • @Xeki No I'm afraid I cannot. But that is the way English is. It just seems to me a term which would fit.
    – WS2
    Commented Mar 14, 2019 at 19:34

probative (adj.)

1: serving to test or try: EXPLORATORY

2: serving to prove: SUBSTANTIATING m-w

Probative questions evolve from your reasonable expectations derived from the investigation and your education and experience. Like control questions, they must be relevant to the subject somehow. Probative questions also elicit answers. Ron Niccum; Secrets of the Adversarial Interview (2010)

One type of probative question is the control question.

Control question polygraph examinations are probative of the truthfulness of an examinee's answers to relevant questions; S. Newton and T. Welch; Understanding Criminal Evidence (2012)

Let me share with you a little inside information about the three types of control questions presently in use, so you too can marvel at the stupidity of the polygraph profession. The first category of control questions are called know-lie questions They are called this because the polygraph operator assumes you will lie to them, and, if you want to pass your test you will lie. The most common known lie control question is, "Have you ever stolen anything?" Douglass Williams; House Committee on Education and Labor. Polygraphs in the Workplace (1986)


I was looking into it some more, and I think it might be a mix between:

  • Control Question - Developed from recently confirmed information from other sources that is not likely to have changed. (Polygraph type questions)
  • Suggestive Question - Purposely limit certain answers and suggest others. Specifically the response framing sub-type of Suggestive questioning.



  • control question is highly technical.
    – Lambie
    Commented Mar 14, 2019 at 16:28
  • @Lambie - Ya... it's probably too technical for a casual conversation lol
    – Xeki
    Commented Mar 14, 2019 at 16:32

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