There exist some statements that become untrue simple because someone has said them publicly. A conceptual example might be I have never said the word: contumacious. A more realistic example might be 0QlmIfMjYFLUrCtBT8qd is a secure password.

These kinds of statements are probably not common, but is there any single word or phrase that can be used to describe them?

  • No, there is no such single word (nor concise phrase), precisely because that kind of statement is uncommon. Commented Aug 26, 2019 at 13:32
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    @HighPerformanceMark: Uncommon, but not unknown. Google Books has a few people saying I never fucking swear. Commented Aug 26, 2019 at 13:49
  • Strictly speaking, sentences (which are governed by grammar, not logic) have no truth value. Truth values are a property of propositions, in logic, which is not governed by grammar, but by axioms. Furthermore, propositions don't exist in time, so they can't become true or false; they are either true or false. If you add time and change you don't have logic any more. Commented Aug 26, 2019 at 14:49
  • "I'm not speaking" does it count? I am saying I am not speaking but while I say that I actually do.
    – ozgur
    Commented Aug 26, 2019 at 18:48
  • This is an index of all books that don't index themselves. Depending on how you look at it, the sentence is nonsensical, paradoxical, ambiguous, undefined, true, or false—or all or none of those things. This is really more a question of philosophy than English. (The examples in the question are more specific, but still of the same disputable type—with the meaning shifting depending on your contextual framework.) Commented Aug 27, 2019 at 4:15

1 Answer 1


Such statements are called self-defeating.

Self-refuting ideas or self-defeating ideas are ideas or statements whose falsehood is a logical consequence of the act or situation of holding them to be true. - wikipedia

A more general concept is defeasibility, where a defeasor 'defeats' a position (not necessarily its own). This is formalised in defeasible logic.

  • I don't think this matches the description exactly as I'm thinking more specifically of something that becomes untrue because it's said aloud rather than because of the idea itself, but it's close enough. Thanks! Commented Aug 27, 2019 at 7:41
  • @DuckHuntDuo I added a bit extra, but the answer I’m proposing is really just the first line. Do you disagree that your example statements are examples of self-defeating statements?
    – Lawrence
    Commented Aug 27, 2019 at 10:39

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