White lie

A white lie is a little lie, a harmless lie, a lie that does not hurt anybody – at least not really.  In fact, a white lie is something you tell somebody to make that person feel better or avoid hurting him or her.

Cartoon called the G-20's big white lie, pic: http://theweek.com/section/cartoon/0/204567/all-cartoon

So why is it called a white lie?  “White” in western tradition represents good whereas black represents evil.  Along those lines a white lie lacks evil intent, a black lie – the black, however, is normally omitted as we don’t bother to specify that lies are inherently evil – is evil or malevolent.

Interestingly, the same thing is called  mentira blanca which also means white lie, in Spanish.  In German however, it is an “emergency lie” which conveys the message quite nicely as well.

A very common example of a white lie brings us back to fishing for compliments:

“Honey, do I look fat in this dress?”

“No sweetheart, you look terrific.”


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