Examples of Lying: White Lies and Beyond

What is a lie? Lying means being dishonest or not telling the truth. There are many examples of lying that occur every day. Some lies are harmless lies considered "white lies," while others can be very hurtful and harmful. Discover 60+ lying examples, including both white lies examples and other, more serious, types of lies.

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60+ Common White Lies

Some of the most common examples of lying occur when people tell a lie in order to be nice or to spare someone's feelings. These are called "white lies." Are you wondering, "What is a white lie?" These are trivial untruths that are told out of kindness rather than to deceive or to be malicious. There are many white lies examples in everyday life situations.

White Lies to Friends and Relatives

Since people spend so much time interacting with friends and relatives, it's not surprising that they're often the recipients of white lies.

  • You tell your mother that her meatloaf is delicious when you really hate the meatloaf.
  • You tell your friend that she doesn't look fat in her dress when she asks because you don't want to tell her that she's gained a lot of weight and looks heavy.
  • You make a claim to your parents that you already took out the trash so you won't get in trouble, then rush to actually do so before anyone gets home.
  • You laugh at a family member's super-corny jokes even though they really just make you want to groan and roll your eyes.
  • You indicate to a friend that you'll call them back later even though you don't really intend to do so because you already have other plans.
  • You tell your friend that you really like her new house when you actually think it is very small and cramped because you don't want to dampen her excitement.
  • You claim that you never saw a text that a friend or family member sent you even though it is showing in the list of unread messages on your mobile device.
  • You tell your sister that her new baby is really cute when the baby actually isn't very cute at all. She thinks the baby is beautiful, and that's what matters.
  • You let your siblings think you've already ordered mom's birthday gift from all of you, then quickly order and pay extra for overnight delivery so they won't find out.
  • You tell your brother that you love the gift he got you for Christmas because you know that he put a lot of thought into picking it out for you, even though you actually really hate the gift.
  • You reassure your best friend that the guy she has a crush on is super-cute even though you don't actually find him attractive.
  • You pretend that you can't find a sweater your friend wants to borrow because she ruined the last clothing item you shared with her.
  • You let your friends think that you have a brand new outfit even though you actually snagged it on the cheap from a thrift store.
  • You tell your friends that you don't feel like going to the school dance so they won't feel bad for you because you don't have a date.
  • You express excitement that your friend got the lead in the school play even though you were secretly hoping you'd get the role.

Examples of White Lies in Relationships

White lies also find their way into conversations with dating partners, spouses or even potential relationship partners.

  • You tell your husband that his new haircut looks really good because you don't want to hurt his feelings by telling him that you hate the haircut.
  • You respond to someone who invites you on a first date by saying that you have to work late even though you really already have a date with someone else.
  • You gloss over the reasons that you and your last significant other broke up when a new prospect asks on a first date because you're not yet comfortable with that level of sharing.
  • You assure your girlfriend that you truly love spending evenings out with her friends even though a few of them really get on your nerves.
  • You tell your boyfriend that the dinner he prepared is delicious, even though you don't like the taste at all. After all, you want him to keep cooking for you!
  • You pretend to love baseball because your significant other is so excited to have won free tickets to go to a local game.
  • You tell your girlfriend that you love her outfit even though you really think she'd look just as lovely in jeans and a t-shirt.
  • You let your significant other believe that you share their enthusiasm for a television show or movie so that you'll have an excuse to spend screen time together.
  • You allow your significant other to think that you baked a dessert that he or she really likes even though you purchased it from a bakery.
  • You let a dating prospect think you're a bit older or younger than you really are because you think that might impact whether they're interested.
  • You claim that you're completely over your ex even though you are still feeling quite brokenhearted.
  • You act disappointed when your significant other cancels a date even though you're kind of excited to have an evening in with no specific plans.
  • You tell a casual date that a message you received while out at dinner was from a family member even though it was from someone else who asked you out.
  • You say thank you to a casual date for bringing you a flower bouquet without pointing out that you're actually allergic to one of the flowers in the bouquet.
  • You tell your boyfriend or girlfriend that your friends think they're awesome even if that isn't an entirely accurate statement to make.
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White Lies Related to Work or School

People spend quite a bit of time working and going to school, so white lies often enter into situations related to these settings.

  • You compliment a coworker on his new hairstyle even though you actually thought it looked better before to avoid making him feel self-conscious.
  • You tell your boss that you are happy to work over the weekend when you are really feeling very resentful because you don't want to upset the boss.
  • You say thank you to a coworker who cleaned up a stack of papers you left in the conference room even though you intentionally left them where they were for a reason.
  • You compliment the dish your boss brought to the company potluck even though you don't actually like it.
  • You express appreciation to a coworker who brought you a birthday cake even though you are on a diet and cannot eat baked goods at the moment.
  • You thank a coworker for their assistance with a project even if their contributions weren't particularly helpful.
  • You tell your boss that you're thrilled to have been asked to join the safety committee even though it's not your idea of the ideal assignment.
  • You tell the information technology team that you can't find where you saved your password even though you really didn't even keep a record of it.
  • You claim that you washed your coffee cup even though you didn't when a memo goes around telling everyone to clean up after themselves in the kitchen.
  • You tell a coworker that you didn't use any of her personal coffee creamer from the refrigerator even though you did actually take a little bit last week.
  • You claim that you don't know who put a suggestion in the anonymous box asking for assigned parking spaces even though you're the one who did it.
  • You pretend that you are putting the finishing touches on a project when it's time to sing happy birthday to a coworker just so you don't have to participate.
  • You claim that you left your physical education clothes at home so you don't have to participate.
  • You falsely tell a classmate or coworker that you forgot your lunch because you're hoping she'll share the yummy food that she brought with you.
  • You tell a classmate you were feeling too sick to take notes in class so he'll let you copy his, even though you were really just daydreaming.
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More White Lies in Daily Interactions

These white lies are all pretty harmless, and they are told in order to spare the feelings of someone that you care about or want to avoid offending. While there are some people who argue that you should never lie under any circumstances, the world would not necessarily be a very nice or very happy place if people told the truth all the time.

  • You tell a nosy supermarket clerk who wants to know if you're having a party that you are, even though you're not. That way, the clerk won't know you plan to eat all that ice cream yourself.
  • You exaggerate the amount of time you've been waiting on hold to chat with a customer service representative to make a point of how dissatisfied you are.
  • You tell a political candidate who knocks on you're door that you're planning to vote for them even though you have no idea who they are.
  • You inform a telephone solicitor that you are dealing with an urgent situation in order to get out of listening to their sales pitch.
  • You tell the bank teller at the drive-through that you don't have a pen so she'll send one over and you don't have to rummage through your handbag.
  • You claim that a purchase you are returning was a gift so that a store employee won't hassle you about why you don't have a receipt.
  • You tell the person taking your food order that you're ordering for two people even though the food is really all for you.
  • You pretend that you never got notified of social media connection requests from people you don't know very well because you'd prefer not to connect.
  • You tell your overly chatty neighbor that you're working on a deadline to avoid getting into a long conversation at the fence line.
  • You say that you haven't received a letter or other piece of mail when you are fully aware that there is a month's work of unopened mail on your desk.
  • When asked to join a committee that you don't want to participate in, you untruthfully claim that you are already volunteering on another project during the same timeframe.
  • You tell the nurse at your doctor's office that your shoes weigh three pounds so she'll think you weigh less than the scale says.
  • When ordering a prescription from the pharmacy, you say you'll get it within the hour even though you know it'll be later than that, just so you can be sure you're order is ready when you arrive.
  • You tell the trainer at the gym that you walk laps every day when you really just walk around the house a few times every day as you do your chores.
  • You assert to neighborhood kids who try to sell you fundraising items that you have already purchased from other kids in the neighborhood even if you really haven't.
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Other Types of Lies

Not all lies are essentially harmless white lies. Unfortunately, there are also some other lies that are much more harmful than little white lies. These are lies intended to be malicious, to deceive or to get something to which you are not entitled. Some examples of these types of lies include the following:

  • You tell your spouse that you did not have an affair when you have actually been seeing someone else outside of the marriage for a long time.
  • You steal your friend's iPad and then tell him you haven't seen it and have no idea where it is.
  • You take credit for the work done by someone else in order to make yourself look good, lying to your boss and claiming the work for yourself.
  • You refuse to admit that you shoplifted an item and instead say that you watched someone else take it.
  • You lie about your financial assets in a divorce, saying you actually have much less money than you do, in order to avoid giving your spouse his or her share of the marital assets that you both own.
  • You tell lies as a politician in order to gain votes when you have no actual intention of doing what you promised the people that you were going to do.

These types of lies can all be very harmful. A famous story illustrates the danger of lying. The story is of the little boy who cried wolf. The boy, over and over, sent the alert that a wolf was coming. Eventually, when a wolf really did come, no one believed him because he had lied too many times before.

Ethical Implications of Lying Examples

Now that you have reviewed some white lies examples as well as a few more serious lies, consider the impact of being untruthful from an ethical perspective. Start by reviewing some ethical dilemmas. Then, consider some examples of integrity. Finally, consider the difference between ethics, morals and values. Once you are familiar with these concepts, you'll be better prepared to understand the implications of being less than truthful, even if the falsehoods are just white lies.