Love the Way You Lie

Many Ways To Lie

I recently came across the word prevaricate, which led me to equivocate, which made me realize there are many ways to lie.Equivocate, prevaricate, fib, and lie all refer to not telling the truth.


Lie is the most direct and harshest of the four, and I would say shows a deliberate dishonesty for selfish or troubling purposes. To me, it is like a child who breaks a neighbor’s window and then says he or she did not do it.


Prevaricate is less accusatory and less blunt than lie and usually implies that someone is evading the truth rather than purposely making false statements. I would say this may be a child who hasn’t brushed his or her teeth but wants you to believe he or she has.
British English seems to differ slightly and shows a lack of commitment to a particular answer, a sort of evasiveness. In this sense, it is closely tied to procrastinate. Here I cite Oxford English Dictionary nearly directly: The meanings are closely related—if someone prevaricates he or she often also procrastinates—and this can give rise to confusion in use.


Equivocate is similar to prevaricate, but it generally implies that someone is deliberately using words that have more than one meaning as a way to conceal the truth. Equ or equi is Latin for same or similar and may serve as a reminder of equivocate’s equal but ambiguous use of language.


Fib is similar to a lie in its directness but is less harsh because the matter is often trivial enough or in done in a sincere manner as too seem without prejudice. In my mind, it is nearly synonymous with a white lie, but white lie clears the threshold for being done in good spirit or for a good reason.

Other Resources

Merriam-Webster break these words down nicely and adds palter. Daily Writing Tips has a good list of 40 ways to lie.