- Aimwell pretends to be titled to wed into wealth. [Br. Lit.: The Beaux’ Stratagem ]
- Ananias lies about amount of money received for land. [N.T.: Acts 5:1–6]
- Ananias Club all its members are liars. [Am. Lit.: Worth, 10]
- angel of light false apostles are like Satan in masquerade. [N.T.: II Corinthians 11:14]
- Apaturia epithet of Athena, meaning ‘deceitful.’ [Gk. Myth.: Zimmerman, 36]
- apples of Sodom outwardly sound fruit; inwardly rotten. [Class. Myth.: Jobes, 114]
- Arbaces priest who frames Glaucus. [Br. Lit.: The Last Days of Pompeii, Magill I, 490–492]
- Archimago uses sorcery to deceive people. [Br. Lit.: Faerie Queene ]
- Arnolphe plans marriage to ward; maintains guardianship under alias. [Fr. Lit.: L’Ecole des Femmes ]
- bilberry symbol for falsehood. [Flower Symbolism: Flora Symbolica, 172]
- Brunhild outdone in athletic competition by Gunther with invisible assistance. [Ger. Myth.: Nibelungenlied ]
- Buttermilk, Little Johnny fools witch by substituting china for self in sack. [Br. Fairy Tale: Macleod, 21–24]
- Camilla, Mrs. practises deception on Pip. [Br. Lit.: Great Expectations ]
- clematis symbol of deception. [Flower Symbolism: Jobes, 347; Flora Symbolica, 173]
- Conchis for his psychological experiments he baits subjects with apparently seducible young women. [Br. Lit.: John Fowles The Magus in Weiss, 279]
- dogbane symbol for deceit. [Flower Symbolism: Jobes, 458]
- Hlestakov, Ivan Alexandrovich dissimulating gentleman hoodwinks town dignitaries as tsar’s inspector. [Russ. Lit.: The Inspector General ]
- hocus-pocus magician’s parody of Hoc Est Corpus Domini. [Western Folklore: Espy, 76]
- Jingle, Alfred pretends to be a person of influence and elopes with an old maid for her money. [Br. Lit.: Dickens Pickwick Papers ]
- Judas goat decoy for luring animals to slaughter. [Western Folklore: Espy, 80]
- Latch, William Esther’s betrayer; seduces her on marriage pretense. [Br. Lit.: Esther Waters, Magill I, 254–256]
- Mak Falstaffian figure; categorically maintains his innocence. [Br. Lit.: The Second Shepherds’ Play ]
- Malengin personification of craftiness. [Br. Lit.: Faerie Queene ]
- mask a disguise; hence, symbol of deception. [Art: Hall, 204]
- Mme. St. Pé feigns paralysis for seventeen years to keep her husband away from the woman he loves. [Fr. Drama: Jean Anouilh The Waltz of the Toreadors in On Stage, 383]
- Moncrieff, Algernon, and Jack Worthing both assume fictitious name “Ernest” in wooing belles. [Br. Lit.: The Importance of Being Earnest ]
- Montoni, Signor marries Emily’s aunt to secure her property. [Br. Lit.: The Mysteries of Udolpho, Magill I, 635–638]
- nightshade poisonous flower; symbol of falsehood. [Flower Symbolism: Flora Symbolica, 176]
- Nimue cajoles Merlin to reveal secret of power. [Arth. Romance: History of Prince Arthur, Brewer Handbook, 756]
- Nixon, Richard (1913–) 37th U.S. president (1969–1974); nicknamed “Tricky Dicky.” [Am. Hist.: Kane, 523]
- Pinocchio wooden nose lengthens when he lies. [Ital. Lit.: Pinocchio ]
- Sinon convinced Trojans to accept wooden horse. [Rom. Lit.: Aeneid ]
- Trojan Horse hollow horse concealed soldiers, enabling them to enter and capture Troy. [Gk. Myth.: Iliad]
- white flytrap lures insects with sweet odor. [Flower Symbolism: Flora Symbolica, 178]
- winter cherry inedible fruit symbolizes falsehood. [Plant Symbolism: Jobes, 319]
The malice added to lying, by which one, in addition to uttering an untruth, attempts to make another believe it. A lie, strictly, consists of the intention to say what is contrary to one's thoughts; deceit adds the intention of getting another to accept the expressed falsehood as the truth. Thus, one testifying in court may know that everyone understands his words to be false but, for the record, on which alone he may be judged, he utters a falsehood. Thus, deceit involves more than a lie. It is more than a falsification in words; it is also an attempt, by word or deed, to have the falsification accepted as true.
It should be noted, however, that deceit can be present even when there is no lie or simulation. Indeed, one can deceive by telling the truth. For instance, if an inveterate and notorious liar wishes to deceive another, he might find the way easier and surer by telling the truth rather than a lie. Knowing that people are inclined to believe the opposite of what he says, he can tell the truth and thereby secure that they will believe what is false. His intention is to deceive, and so his very act of telling the truth becomes an act of deception.
In itself deceit, like lying in general, is a venial sin. However, where it causes serious harm to another, or in any case in which truthfulness is urgently and desperately needed, it becomes gravely sinful.
Bibliography: j. a. mchugh and c. j. callan, Moral Theology, rev. e. p. farrell, 2 v. (New York 1958) 2:2403–04.
[s. f. parmisano]
de·ceit / diˈsēt/ • n. the action or practice of deceiving someone by concealing or misrepresenting the truth. ∎ a dishonest act or statement. ∎ deceitful disposition or character.
So deceive †ensnare, betray XIII; lead into error XIV. — OF. deceivre, deçoivre :- L. dēcipere, f. DE- 4 + capere take, seize; or — deceiv-, tonic stem of OF. deceveir (mod. décevoir) :- Rom. *dēcipēre. So deception XIV. — (O)F. or late L.
Amisrepresentationmade with the express intention of defrauding someone, which subsequently causes injury to that person.
In order for a statement to be deceit, it must be untrue, made with knowledge of its falsity, or made in reckless disregard of the truth. The misrepresentation must be such that it causes harm to another individual.