All Sources -
Updated Media sources (1) About content Print Topic Share Topic
views updated

lie1 / / • v. (ly·ing / ˈlī-ing/ ; past lay / / ; past part. lain / lān/ ) [intr.] 1. (of a person or animal) be in or assume a horizontal or resting position on a supporting surface: the man lay face downward on the grass I had to lie down for two hours because I was groggy Lily lay back on the pillows and watched him. ∎  (of a thing) rest flat on a surface: a book lay open on the table. ∎  (of a dead person) be buried in a particular place. 2. be, remain, or be kept in a specified state: the church lies in ruins today putting homeless families into apartments that would otherwise lie empty. ∎  (of something abstract) reside or be found: the solution lies in a return to “traditional family values.” 3. (of a place) be situated in a specified position or direction: the small town of Swampscott lies about ten miles north of Boston. ∎  (of a scene) extend from the observer's viewpoint in a specified direction: stand here, and all of Amsterdam lies before you. 4. Law (of an action, charge, or claim) be admissible or sustainable. • n. (usu. the lie) the way, direction, or position in which something lies. ∎  Golf the position in which a golf ball comes to rest, esp. as regards the ease of the next shot. ∎  the lair or place of cover of an animal or a bird. PHRASES: let something lie take no action regarding a controversial or problematic matter. lie heavy on one cause one to feel troubled or uncomfortable. lie in state (of the corpse of a person of national importance) be laid in a public place of honor before burial. lie in wait conceal oneself, waiting to surprise, attack, or catch someone. lie low (esp. of a criminal) keep out of sight; avoid detection or attention: at the time of the murder, he appears to have been lying low in a barn. take something lying down [usu. with negative] accept an insult, setback, rebuke, etc., without reacting or protesting.PHRASAL VERBS: lie ahead be going to happen; be in store: I'm excited by what lies ahead. lie around/about (of an object) be left carelessly out of place: there were pills and potions lying around in every corner of the house. ∎  (of a person) pass the time lazily or aimlessly: you all just lay around all day on your backsides, didn't you? lie behind be the real, often hidden, reason for (something): a subtle strategy lies behind such silly claims. lie in Brit. remain in bed after the normal time for getting up. ∎ archaic (of a pregnant woman) go to bed to give birth. lie off Naut. (of a ship) stand some distance from shore or from another ship. lie to Naut. (of a ship) come almost to a stop with its head toward the wind. lie with 1. (of a responsibility or problem) be attributable to (someone): the ultimate responsibility for the violence lies with the country's president. 2. archaic have sexual intercourse with. lie2 • n. an intentionally false statement: Mungo felt a pang of shame at telling Alice a lie the whole thing is a pack of lies. ∎  used with reference to a situation involving deception or founded on a mistaken impression: all their married life she had been living a lie. • v. (lies , lied , ly·ing / ˈlī-ing/ ) [intr.] tell a lie or lies: why had Wesley lied about his visit to Philadelphia? [with direct speech] “I am sixty-five,” she lied. ∎  (lie one's way into/out of) get oneself into or out of a situation by lying: you lied your way on to this voyage by implying you were an experienced sailor. ∎  (of a thing) present a false impression; be deceptive: the camera cannot lie. PHRASES: give the lie to serve to show that (something seemingly apparent or previously stated or believed) is not true: these figures give the lie to the notion that Britain is excessively strike-ridden. I tell a lie (or that's a lie) inf. an expression used to correct oneself immediately when one realizes that one has made an incorrect remark: I never used to dream—I tell a lie, I did dream when I was little. lie through one's teeth inf. tell an outright lie without remorse. THE RIGHT WORD equivocate, fabricate, fib, lie, prevaricate, rationalize

If your spouse asks you whether you remembered to mail the tax forms and you say “Yes,” even though you know they're still sitting on the passenger seat of your car, you're telling a lie, which is a deliberately false statement.

If you launch into a lengthy explanation of the day's frustrations and setbacks, the correct word would be prevaricate, which is to quibble, dodge the point, or confuse the issue so as to avoid telling the truth.

If you tell your spouse that you would have mailed the taxes, but then you started thinking about an important deduction you might be entitled to take and decided it would be unwise to mail them without looking into it, you're rationalizing, which is to come up with reasons that put your own behavior in the most favorable possible light.

If you say that there was an accident in front of the post office that prevented you from finding a parking space and there really wasn't, fabricate is the correct verb, meaning that you've invented a false story or excuse without the harsh connotations of lie ( she fabricated an elaborate story about how they got lost on their way home).

Equivocate implies saying one thing and meaning another; it usually suggests the use of words that have more than one meaning, or whose ambiguity may be misleading. For example, if your spouse says, “Did you take care of the taxes today?” you might equivocate by saying “Yes,” you took care of them—meaning that you finished completing the forms and sealing them in the envelope, but that you didn't actually get them to the post office.

To fib is to tell a falsehood about something unimportant; it is often used as a euphemism for lie ( a child who fibs about eating his vegetables).

views updated


A lie, the dissimulation or willful deformation of the contents of a thought that the subject deems to be true, can be practiced only either vis-à-vis another person or by means of a split in the subjectin which case the subject lies "to him- or herself." A lie implies the intent to deceive and supports self-interest. The psychoanalytic approach to lying introduces the dimension of the unconscious.

The earliest psychoanalytic consideration of lies is found in Freud's "Project for a Scientific Psychology" (1950c [1895]), where he envisioned lies solely in the context of the psychiatric definition of hysteria as a form of simulation, although he rejected this perspective. While he acknowledged the existence of a tendency toward simulation and lying in hysterics, he attributed it to the fact that the patient "wishes to be ill," (p. 249), itself the result of patients' need to convince themselves and those around them of the reality of their suffering.

In "Project for a Scientific Psychology," the πρωτoυ πσευδoς (proton-pseudos ) is usually translated as "first hysterical lie" although it in fact involves an error or mistaken connection rather than an intentional dissimulation or distortion. The well-known example of Emma shows that the "error" had to do with the fact that she related her attack of agoraphobia to the shop-assistants' ridicule of her clothes when she was thirteen, whereas the determining event, although its felt effects were deferred, was the memory-trace of a shopkeeper's pedophilic assault on her when she was a child. The mistaken connection resulted from the repression of a childhood memory that was not available to her at the time of the scene when she was thirteen ("Hysterics suffer mainly from reminiscences" [p. 7]).

In "Two Lies Told by Children" (1913g) Freud emphasized that lies between parents and children are "natural." In "On the Origin of the 'Influencing Machine' in Schizophrenia" (1919/1991), Viktor Tausk wrote: "children learn to lie from parents and upbringers, who by misrepresentations and unkept promises make the child obey and teach him to disguise his true purposes" (pp. 214-215 n4). The aim of Freud's article of 1913 was thus to show the existence of unconscious motivations in certain childhood lies that "occur under the influence of excessive feelings of love" (p. 305).

Such motivations do not involve the interests of the ego but instead correspond to an instinctual impulse that cannot be admitted, not because of the strong feelings of shame or unconscious guilt that are attached to it, but because it is unconscious. In the two cases evoked by Freud, incestuous love is behind the error and, secondarily, behind the lie that covers it up. The error itself could have been admitted as a fact, and if it is not acknowledged, this is because of the unconscious content it manifests. The "impossibility" of confession opens the way for reconstitution through deferred action, based on associations produced during the analysis, of the motivations that made the error impossible to confess.

This view leads to seeing the moral fault that the lie represents as a consequence of neurosis. A strictly moral understanding of lies is thus transformed by the psychoanalytical approach into an interrogation of the desire for falsehood. Such a desire, or even need, is incompatible with psychoanalysis, which requires, of analyst and patient alike, not that they tell the truth, but that they seek it.

According to Sándor Ferenczi (1912/1968), the difference between suggestion and psychoanalysis is that the former maintains disguise and repression owing to its basis in the authority of the therapist, where the latter "combats the 'vital lie' wherever it is found . . . its final goal [being] to let light penetrate into human consciousness as far as the most hidden wellsprings of motivations for actions." Ferenczi, too, stigmatized the pedagogy of his time, which imposed upon children the repression of emotions and ideas. In "Psychanalyse et pédagogie" (1908; [Psychoanalysis and education, 1949]), he wrote: "The closest thing to it is lying . . . current pedagogy forces the child to lie to himself, to deny what he knows and what he thinks." Echoed here is Freud's concern about telling children the truth about sexuality; lying, in this context, appears first and foremost as an adult form of hypocrisy, with children's lies being a response to it.

Karl Abraham (1925/1927) studied from a psychoanalytic viewpoint the case of a captain of industry, analyzing his compulsion to deceive others as a two-phase process in which he first showed himself to be lovable because he had not been loved by his parents, then did his best to disappoint those whom he had duped in order to take revenge against them. In "Über einen Typus der Pseudoaffektifivität ('Als ob')" (1934) Helen Deutsch introduced the important notion of the "as if" personality, which is not a utilitarian lie told on a given occasion, but rather protects the "true Self" with a "false Self" (Donald Winnicott). Mythomania can also be situated within this framework of a narcissistic pathology in which lies are addressed both to others and to the self. Moreover, in "The Antisocial Tendency" (1956/1984) Winnicott situated theft associated with lying at the heart of antisocial tendencies in children and adolescents, but also connected this to incontinence and anything that makes a mess. In this context, this would focus on ease and opportunity to the classic moral understanding of an aggressive will to deceive. Lying, like gluttony and theft, originates in frustration.

The psychoanalytic view of lying is thus very broad, because it includes both the dimension of the false, ranging from social adaptation to pathologies of identity, and that of willful deceit, for which explanations relating to frustration or repressed love can be found.

Sophie de Mijolla-Mellor

See also: As if personality; Historical truth; Imposter; Memories; Mythomania; "On the Sexual Theories of Children"; Proton-pseudos; Secret; Transitional object; Truth.


Abraham, Karl. (1927). The influence of oral erotism on character-formation. In Selected papers of Karl Abraham (Douglas Bryan and Alix Strachey, Trans., pp. 393-406). London: Hogarth and the Institute of Psycho-Analysis. (Original work published 1925)

Deutsch, Helene.Über einen Typus der Pseudoaffektifivität ("Als ob"). Internationale Zeitschrift für Psychoanalyse, 20.

Ferenczi, Sándor. (1949). Psychoanalysis and education. International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 30, 220-224. (Original work published 1920)

. (1968). Suggestion et psychanalyse. In his Psychanalyse I, Œuvres complètes (Volume 1: 1908-1912; pp. 233-242). Paris: Payot. (Original work published 1912)

Freud, Sigmund. (1913g). Two lies told by children. SE, 12: 303-309.

. (1950c [1895]). Project for a scientific psychology. SE, 1: 281-387.

Tausk, Viktor. (1991). On the origin of the "influencing machine" in schizophrenia. In Paul Roazen (Ed.), Sexuality, War, and Schizophrenia: Collected Psychoanalytic Papers (Eric Mosbacher et. al., Trans.; pp. 185-220). New Brunswick: Transaction. (Original work published 1919).

Winnicott, Donald W. (1984). The antisocial tendency. In his Deprivation and deliquency. London: Tavistock. (Original work published 1956)

views updated

lie1 a lie is halfway round the world before the truth has got its boots on proverbial saying, mid 19th century; the speed with which falsehood travels was a classical commonplace, as in the line from Virgil's Aeneid, ‘Rumour, than whom no other evil thing is faster’. (Virgil's passage is alluded to in the Introduction to Shakespeare's 2 Henry IV (1598), which begins with the stage direction, ‘Enter Rumour, painted full of tongues.’)

See also ask no questions and hear no lies, Father of Lies at father, half the truth is often a whole lie, white lie.

views updated

lieally, Altai, apply, assai, awry, ay, aye, Baha'i, belie, bi, Bligh, buy, by, bye, bye-bye, chi, Chiangmai, Ciskei, comply, cry, Cy, Dai, defy, deny, Di, die, do-or-die, dry, Dubai, dye, espy, eye, fie, fly, forbye, fry, Frye, goodbye (US goodby), guy, hereby, hi, hie, high, I, imply, I-spy, July, kai, lie, lye, Mackay, misapply, my, nearby, nigh, Nye, outfly, passer-by, phi, pi, pie, ply, pry, psi, Qinghai, rai, rely, rocaille, rye, scry, serai, shanghai, shy, sigh, sky, Skye, sky-high, sly, spin-dry, spry, spy, sty, Sukhotai, supply, Tai, Thai, thereby, thigh, thy, tie, Transkei, try, tumble-dry, underlie, Versailles, Vi, vie, whereby, why, wry, Wye, xi, Xingtai, Yantai

views updated

lie2 if you lie down with dogs, you will get up with fleas proverbial saying, late 16th century (earlier in Latin), asserting that human failings, such as dishonesty and foolishness, are contagious. (Compare he that touches pitch shall be defiled.)
lie in state (of the corpse of a person of national importance) be laid in a public place of honour before burial.

See also how the land lies at land1, as you make your bed, so you must lie on it, let sleeping dogs lie, as a tree falls, so shall it lie, truth lies at the bottom of a well.

views updated

lie1 pt. lay, pp. lain be in a prostrate or recumbent position. OE. str. vb. liċġan = OS. liggian (Du. liggen), OHG. liggen, ON. liggja :- Gmc. *liʒjan f.base *leʒ *laʒ *læʒ :- IE. *legh *logh *lēgh-, repr. also by Gr. léktron, lékhos bed, L. lectus bed, OSl. ležati lie. The form lie is from the stem of the 2nd and 3rd pers. sg. pres. ind. OE. liġ(e)st, līst, liġ(e)ð, līð; cf. LAY1.
Hence lie sb. XVII.

views updated

lie2 pt., pp. lied tell an untruth. OE. str. vb. lēogan = OS. liogan (Du. liegen), OHG. liogan (G. lügen), ON. ljúga, Goth. liugan; Gmc. vb. f. *leuʒ *louʒ *luʒ (whence OE. lyġe sb.); cf. OSl. lūz̄a lie.
Hence lie sb. untruth. XIII.

views updated

lié (Fr.). Bound, i.e. (1) Slurred; (2) Tied.