日期:2018-11-15 17:20



Hello and welcome to the VOA Learning English program Words and Their Stories.

"Liar, liar, pants on fire!"

Children all over the United States know this simple rhyme. They say it when someone gets caught in a lie. In other words, when someone gets busted for lying.

The word "lie" comes from Old English through even older German. A lie is an untruth. It is intentional and usually has consequences.

But not all lies are created equal.

People often use white lies to prevent hurting the feelings of others or to save themselves trouble. For example, let's say you are eating dinner at your boss's house and the food is really bad. When your boss asks you, "How do you like the meatloaf? It's an old family recipe," it is a good idea to say you love it.

White lie to the rescue!

Parents and other adults are known to tell white lies to children. Some white lies -- such as lying about Santa Claus -- are part of a tradition and are meant for fun.

Some white lies are to protect children. For example, when a child asks about a person who has died, adults may say the dead person is simply sleeping.

These lies are meant to help, not hurt. But they are still, technically, lies.

Even adults may sometime prefer to hear a lie than a truth that is too difficult to face. In the song "Tell Me Lies," by the rock group Fleetwood Mac, a woman is asking for lies -- sweet little lies.

Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies.

(Tell me lies, tell me, tell me lies)

Oh, no, no you can't disguise.

(You can't disguise, no you can't disguise)

Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies


Another kind of relatively harmless lie is called a fib. It is a little, unimportant lie. Fibbers who fib are usually not out to hurt anyone.

Sometimes people simply make things up. Other times they stretch the truth, or exaggerate. In other words, they add details to the truth to make a story better.

Bending the truth is also not a severe lie. If you bend the truth, you take the truth and change it very slightly.

A half-truth is trickier. It could be like the name says – a statement that is half true and half false. Or it could be a statement that is completely true but shows only one part of the real story. Half-truths are meant to deceive or to avoid responsibility.

These examples are all clever, subtle ways of lying. They are the opposite of outright lies. These types of lies are direct. They are also called out-and-out, barefaced or bold-faced lies.

Many word experts agree that the original expression is "barefaced lie" and that it began in the 1600s. At that time, "bare" meant "bold." Also at that time in history, almost all men had facial hair. It was considered quite bold for a man to be clean-shaven, or barefaced.

Eventually, the word for "hairless" went from "bare" to "bald," and so did the description for an obvious lie. So, these days you can use bold-faced, barefaced and even bald-faced to mean a lie that is obvious. They all mean that there is no mistake or making excuses. This person is lying!

Barefaced liars lie easily and often. They lie through their teeth, we like to say.

The group word for lies is pack. Someone who tells a pack of lies tells one lie after another.

There are packs of lies and there are webs of lies. This expression may have come from a line of Scottish poetry:

"Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive."

To be tangled in a web of one's own lies ... is no place to be. I'm Anna Matteo.


1.white lies 善意的谎言
Yes, all the lies that men say are not white lies.

2.stretch the truth 夸大事实
For instance, the phone might be the best medium for sales where employees are encouraged to stretch the truth.

3.bend the truth 歪曲事实
Reporters sometimes bend the truth.

4.outright lies 彻头彻尾的谎言
"Such assertions," he said, "are outright lies."












即使是成年人,相比起难以面对的事实,他们也更愿意听谎言。在摇滚乐队佛利伍麦克的歌曲《Tell Me Lies》中,一名女子就在寻求谎言--甜蜜的小谎言。










上面这些例子都是撒谎的很灵活、很巧妙的方式。它们都在彻头彻尾的谎言的对立面。这类型(outright lies)的谎言都是直接的。它们也被称为彻头彻尾的、公然的或厚颜无耻的谎言。

许多词汇专家都认同原始的表达是“barefaced lie”,这种表达出现于十七世纪。当时,“bare”的意思是“bold”。同样是在历史上的那个时期,几乎所有男性都留有面部毛发。一个男性如果把胡子刮得很干净,或不戴面具,那就会被认为非常大胆。




There are packs of lies and there are webs of lies。这个表达可能是来源于一行苏格兰诗:



  • stretchn. 伸展,张开 adj. 可伸缩的 v. 伸展,张开,
  • weaven. 编法,织法,编织 v. 编织,组合,编排
  • exaggeratev. 夸大,夸张
  • deceivevt. 欺骗 vi. 行骗
  • boldadj. 大胆的,粗体的,醒目的,无礼的,陡峭的
  • disguisen. 假面目,伪装物,假装 vt. 假装,假扮,掩饰
  • mediumn. 媒体,方法,媒介 adj. 适中的,中等的
  • slightlyadv. 些微地,苗条地
  • preventv. 预防,防止
  • obviousadj. 明显的,显然的