“Liars need to have good memories.”
a French proverb
Before we get to the idioms related to truth and lies, let’s look at how the nouns are usually used:
- to tell the truth: Tell me the truth. Did you break the vase? (say vs. tell)
- to learn the truth: I’ve got to learn the truth about my family.
- to find out the truth: When did you find out the truth? – Recently.
- to accept the truth: It may be hard to accept the sad truth.
- to hide the truth: Don’t try to hide the truth. The truth will out (used for saying that people will find out the truth about something, even if you try to keep it a secret).
Common adjective + truth collocations are: absolute, whole, full, simple, awful, horrible (truth)
- to tell a lie: Don’t tell me lies!
- to swallow a lie: How could she swallow (believe) such a blatant /ˈbleɪt(ə)nt/ (obvious) lie?
- to live a lie: He lived a lie for 20 years, pretending to be the faithful husband of two different women living in two different towns.
Common adjective + lie collocations are: big, little, complete, white (a lie told to avoid making someone upset), elaborate /ɪˈlæb(ə)rət/ (detailed and complicated) (lie)
|If truth be told/known
in truth (formal)
|to be honest
|If truth be told, I’ve never really loved him.
In truth, the lecture could be better.
|nothing could be further from the truth||it’s a complete lie||He is a bad person. – Nothing could be further from the truth! He is the best person I’ve ever known.|
|economical with the truth
|avoiding telling the truth, lying||I admit I’ve been economical with the truth.|
|to have a/the ring of truth||to seem to be true||Do you believe his story? – It has the ring of truth.|
|to spill (spilt; spilt) the beans||to tell someone something, often something that should be kept secret||Come on, spill the beans. Are you organizing a surprise party?|
|spill (spilt; spilt) the guts (American slang)||tell me everything you know (about sth.)||You’re in big trouble, so spill the guts!|
|honesty is the best policy||it’s always better to be honest||Honesty is the best policy. Just tell them what you really think.|
|in all honesty (colloquial)||to tell you the truth (especially when the truth is not something pleasant to hear)||I can’t, in all honesty, say that I like your singing.|
|in (all) fairness||used for making your criticism of someone or something seem less strong||I should say in all fairness to him that he’s not the most prominent scientist.|
|to come (came; come) clean||to tell the truth about something that you have kept secret||You need to come clean about/over/on your plans. Come clean with me!|
|to throw (threw; thrown) dust in one’s eyes||to mislead (misled; misled), deceive sb.||Don’t even try to throw dust in my eyes! I see right through you (I understand the truth about you).|
|to pull the wool over sb’s eyes||to deceive, trick sb.||It’s so typical of him to try to pull the wool over people’s eyes. Don’t trust him!|
|funny business||dishonest actions or behavior intended to trick sb.||If you see any funny business, report to the authorities.|
|monkey business||behavior that is not acceptable or is dishonest||The teacher suspected that there had been some monkey business going on while he was out of the room.|
|to lie through one’s teeth||to tell sb. a complete lie||He’s lying through his teeth! Don’t you see?|
|to take (took; taken) sb. for a ride||to cheat or swindle sb. (to get money dishonestly from sb. by deceiving or cheating them)||They won’t take me for a ride! I know what they are up to (I know what bad (often illegal) things they are doing).|
|smoke and mirrors||behavior or information designed to hide the truth about a situation or create a false impression||The new budget is nothing but smoke and mirrors (it’s just smoke and mirrors).|
|to stretch the truth||to say sth. that is not completely honest in order to make sb. or sth. seem better than it really is||Don’t stretch the truth about how you got the A on the test.|
|to bend (bent; bent) the truth/the facts||to say sth. that is not completely true in order to achieve an aim||We all sometimes bend the truth, don’t we?|
|to play games||to try to deceive sb.||She’s just playing games. Her words mean nothing.|