Mr. A told me two months ago that he did not do something. Mr. A told Mr. B today that he did do it, and I was in the room. I saw in Mr. A’s eyes the moment he realized that he had, in effect, just admitted that he had lied to me. It was a moment of realization lasting only a split second.

What do you call the act of seeing a moment of realization in someone's eyes?

  • 1
    You mean "Does English have a word to describe the act of realising that someone else has realised something"? I think that's just Too Localised. Nov 14, 2012 at 13:58
  • Indeed, you can use realisation, or maybe recognition. You saw his realisation/recognition that you knew he had lied earlier.
    – Andrew Leach
    Nov 14, 2012 at 14:00
  • Does "revelation" work? Nov 14, 2012 at 14:28
  • " The look in his eye betrayed the lie . " Sep 24, 2013 at 11:33

4 Answers 4


There are many ways you could describe this, but I don't know if there is a single verb that fits your bill:

  • You saw his tell.

  • His eyes betrayed him.


If you're describing the look on Mr. A's face, perhaps he had an ashamed, stunned, or embarrassed look. It may have lasted only a moment until his neo-cortex kicked in and suppressed his limbic response to the difference between what he told you and what he just said to Mr. B.

If you are describing the moment of realization, there is a neologism, ignosecond, which Urban Dictionary describes as

The moment of clarity just after a boneheaded act, but just before the point of no return, when you realize you've just done something stupid

Other ways of describing the realization might be

  • Mr. A. realized that I had caught him in a lie.
  • Mr. A. realized that he had spoken a bald-faced lie.
  • Mr. A. was hoist by his own petard. (Or "Hoist with his own petar" from Hamlet Act 3, Scene 4)
  • Ka-ching! Whoop! Whoop!
  • Busted!
  • Gotcha!

Pick your point of view and level of formality.

  • 2
    Google Books - "hoisted by his own petard":2720 hits; "hoist by his own petard":9300 hits. "Hoist" is/was already the past tense form. Nov 14, 2012 at 14:31
  • Agreed, @FumbleFingers, I will correct based on your comment and en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petard#.22Hoist_with_his_own_petard.22 . "Hoist" is the past participle of "hoise."
    – rajah9
    Nov 14, 2012 at 14:38
  • "hoist by one's own petard" implies not just being caught; it implies suffering negative results from one's own schemes (cause the bomb maker to be blown up with his own bomb",), so I don't think it's appropriate here. Nov 14, 2012 at 15:38
  • This answer describes Mr A's expression or realization. But the question is about noticing such an expression or realization in someone else.
    – MetaEd
    Nov 15, 2012 at 3:31
  • Yes, @MετάEd and MarkBeadles, my ignosecond has turned into ignohours. You have helped me realize that the OP is describing the observation of an expression, not the expression itself.
    – rajah9
    Nov 15, 2012 at 13:46

Do you not mean epiphany?

The feeling of epiphany as described here:

An epiphany (from the ancient Greek ἐπιφάνεια, epiphaneia, "manifestation, striking appearance") is an experience of sudden and striking realization.

A comprehension or perception of reality by means of a sudden intuitive realization.

a revealing scene or moment (merriam-webster).


(super necro) Depending on the formality, and if you are talking about a play or other formal work of literature, the moment of realization could be described as anagnorisis.

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