5 Phrases Chronic Liars Use Often (and Understanding Why They Tell Lies) (2023)

By Power of PositivityPublished on August 17, 2016Last modified March 06, 2023

Even though everyone occasionally lies, lying isn’t generally acceptable. You may think you’re honest, but you could be lying more than you think. But many people acknowledge a difference between chronic liars and occasional fibs.

For instance, if your friend buys you lunch then asks if you enjoyed the meal, you might say yes out of politeness, even though your food was greasy and tasteless. These are called “white lies.”

One study found that 40% of adults said they lie at least once a day, usually in trivial ways.

He does not answer questions, or gives evasive answers; he speaks nonsense, rubs the great toe along the ground; and shivers; his face is discolored; he rubs the roots of his hair with his fingers. ~Description of a liar, 900 B.C.

What causes people to become liars?

Even though lying is everyone’s experience, some people lie a lot. They could even be called chronic liars. These folks lie for various reasons, such as to improve their self-esteem, to be perceived as impressive, or to be liked by others.

Studies show that certain personality types are prone to lying. People who tend to be more anxious, more manipulative, or have a specific sociability type lie more often. There are also personality disorders associated with lying. These include the following:

  • Narcissists: These people lie to boost their self-image and power over others.
  • Borderline or obsessive: This is a compulsive personality disorder.
  • Histrionic personality disorder: These people have an excessive attention-seeking disorder.
  • Antisocial personality disorder: This personality type is prone to be manipulative of other people.

What do chronic liars say?

Lying causes relational fallout. It ruins romantic relationships, frustrates co-workers, and sets a parent’s teeth on edge. But how do you know someone is lying to you? You cannot walk around with a lie detector to check your partner or teenager’s honesty. Interestingly enough, there are some everyday things liars do. These five phrases provide a good gauge for you to know who’s lying to you.

1 – Using the phrases “Honestly” & “To Tell You the Truth.”

When people lie, they often use phrases to persuade their listeners they are telling the truth. Whether it’s a conscious thing or not, this is a typical habit for chronic liars. They may say something like “Honesty” or “To tell you the truth” at the beginning of the end of their sentences as if you emphasize the truth of what they’re saying. Whether it’s your teenager trying to pull a fast one on you or a telephone salesperson offering you a good deal…be on the lookout for these words.

2 – Revealing too many details

When someone is lying to you, they often give you lots of unnecessary details to overload you with information to deflect their lies. These could be subtle clues that the person isn’t honest with you. Of course, this isn’t always the case. Some people are detail-oriented and explain things with lots of words. So, don’t assume you’re being lied to just because of many details. What could be an indicator here is that the facts seem well-rehearsed rather than off the top of their head. Details such as an exact time they did something or what color the sky was that morning could indicate that the person is embellishing the truth.

3 – “I never,” or “I always.”

No one can “always” or “never” do anything. That’s not reality. Chronic liars don’t understand this because they often use hyperbole. They may be trying to persuade you by embedding lies using “always” and “never” or words like them to emphasize what they’re saying.

Whatever the reason, it usually has the opposite effect. So, if your co-worker tells you he always finishes his work before he leaves the office, you may want to check out his story.

4 – They avoid ownership of their mistakes

Not taking responsibility for things is often a slippery slope for liars. They blame everyone else for what happened using pronouns like “he” or “she” or “they” rather than “I” statements. According to the American Psychological Association, one study found that liars need to distance themselves from situations to avoid taking responsibility for their own behavior. Other negative emotions liars use to throw you off course from realizing their responsible include

  • Anger, hate, frustration speech to push you away
  • Victimization or hurt, and disappointment as if they’re the one who has been taken advantage of.
  • Complain about being misunderstood or judged, indignation, and self-righteousness towards anyone who would accuse them.

Researchers developed a software program that could analyze whether someone was lying in their writing. The software could detect lies 67% of the time. This was better than humans who could see being lied to only 52% of the time. It just goes to show that it’s tough to really know if someone is lying to you.

5 – They use denials, justifications, and short answers

When a liar is asked about their story, they will deny wrongdoing automatically even before being accused. They may try to explain their behavior, even if you didn’t ask them for an explanation. Plus, they’ll use short sentence fragments that may not make any sense. Perhaps they feel guilty about lying, but this behavior is a dead give away you’re being lied to.

5 Phrases Chronic Liars Use Often (and Understanding Why They Tell Lies) (3)

Five primary reasons why people lie

Perhaps you’ve realized you have fallen into a pattern of lying. It can be a subtle habit you develop over time. Here are some typical reasons why you could have fallen into a pattern of lying.

1 – To avoid punishment

Deflecting blame is a big motivation to lie, according to criminal behavior expert Samantha Dewitt. It doesn’t matter whether you accidentally did something or you did it on purpose. You are still motivated to avoid getting punished. If you are worried about being punished, it may be time to step back and evaluate why this is happening if you tell the truth. Are you in an abusive relationship? Are you afraid at work? Whatever the reason, seek help from a counselor, pastor, or a good friend to talk to about it. Break free from living in fear.

2 – For a reward

The motivation to get something you want is so strong you are willing to lie to get it. For instance, you lie on your resume to get the job you really want, even though there’s a good chance you could be found out. This is self-defeating. This behavior could hurt you if you keep doing it. Seek out counseling to help you break free from this type of self-harm.

3 –To be popular

One study explains that peer pressure motivates people to lie.

Do you create stories to get people to like you? For example, you may claim to have visited several countries when you’ve never traveled. You may be suffering from low self-esteem. Don’t sell yourself short. You are a worthwhile person just the way you are without needing other’s approval of you.

4 – To protect someone else

You may lie to protect yourself, but perhaps you are lying to protect other people from getting punished. You may be lying to protect your family, friends, or coworkers. If this is the case, find ways to help these people without needing to lie for them. It could be that they are manipulating you to lie for you. Suppose this is the case. Distance yourself from this type of relationship. Find out friends who don’t require you to lie for them.

5 –To protect yourself from physical abuse

You may lie to protect yourself from a partner or a co-worker. This is understandable. If you’re in an abusive relationship, seek help immediately.

Final Thoughts on Unmasking a Chronic Liar

It’s difficult to determine if someone is lying to you. One rule of caution is to be sure not to judge people but get to know them before deciding they’re lying to you. Ask them lots of questions and look for inconsistencies in what they’re saying to you. If they co-operative with you and want to help you understand what they’re saying, that indicates they’re telling you the truth.

Look for common phrases like saying “always” or giving lots of details in a rehearsed kind of way. Also, look for other indications of lying, such as not looking at your eyes, overly nervous movements, or headshaking at the wrong time.

What if you’re a chronic liar? If you find yourself falling into a habit of telling lies, you may want to evaluate why you engage in this behavior. If you’re in an abusive relationship or protecting someone manipulating you to lie, get help immediately.


How do you catch a chronic liar? ›

Here are 5 foolproof ways to do so effectively:
  1. Take note of any inconsistencies. If you suspect someone of lying, pay attention to any inconsistencies in their story. ...
  2. Throw them off by asking the unexpected. ...
  3. Pay close attention to their behavior. ...
  4. Look for microexpressions. ...
  5. Be suspicious of extra details.
Feb 19, 2019

What phrases do liars use? ›

Liars hedge their statements.

As far as I recall…” “If you really think about it…” “What I remember is…” Hedged statements aren't an absolute indicator of deception, but an overuse of such qualifying phrases certainly should raise suspicion that a person isn't being totally up front with what he or she knows.

What are the 5 signs that someone is lying? ›

  • A Change in Speech Patterns. One telltale sign someone may not be telling the whole truth is irregular speech. ...
  • The Use of Non-Congruent Gestures. ...
  • Not Saying Enough. ...
  • Saying Too Much. ...
  • An Unusual Rise or Fall in Vocal Tone. ...
  • Direction of Their Eyes. ...
  • Covering Their Mouth or Eyes. ...
  • Excessive Fidgeting.

What do liars say when confronted? ›

For example, when confronted about something, they may reply with a murky statement such as "Would I do such a thing?" or even "I wouldn't do such a thing," rather than a straightforward "I didn't do it." Another indication of deception is using unnecessary words in a statement that make its meaning less clear.

What drives pathological liars to lie? ›

A key feature of a pathological lie is that it has no obvious motivation. It is usually possible to determine why someone has told a lie — such as to benefit themselves or avoid an embarrassing or stressful social situation — but pathological lying occurs for no clear reason and does not seem to benefit the individual.

What are words for chronic liar? ›

Pathological lying, also known as mythomania and pseudologia fantastica, is the chronic behavior of compulsive or habitual lying.

What are words for liars? ›

synonyms for liar
  • cheat.
  • con artist.
  • perjurer.
  • phony.
  • storyteller.
  • deceiver.
  • dissimulator.
  • equivocator.

What is one thing all liars have in common? ›

Liars don't only hide the truth; they hide their feelings, too. They lie to avoid facing the facts. Despite what people might think, good liars know how to listen. It gives them information they can use in the future.

How can you tell if someone is telling you a lie? ›

Pay attention to what they are saying. Phrases like “honestly,” “I want to be honest with you,” or “here's the truth” can all be signs that the liar is trying too hard to convince the other person that they are telling the truth. Using buffer words such as “like” and “um” can indicate lying.

Where do liars look when lying? ›

The direction of their eyes: A 2012 study published in Plos One debunked the myth people look to the left when lying. A study by the University of Michigan found when participants lied, they maintained eye contact 70% of the time.

How do you get someone to admit they are lying? ›

6 ways to get someone to tell you the truth
  1. Go alone and bring food. It's a well-known fact that nobody confesses to a crowd. ...
  2. Take an empathetic approach. ...
  3. Don't ask questions. ...
  4. Cultivate short-term thinking. ...
  5. Stay in charge of the conversation. ...
  6. Be presumptuous, not accusatory.
Mar 10, 2022

What do liars say in text? ›

For example, are they using “bigger” words than they usually do? They might say “utilize” instead of “use” or something similar. Overall, if their wording sounds suspiciously scripted, it could be one of the signs someone is lying in text.

How do you manipulate a liar to tell the truth? ›

How to Get the Truth Out of a Liar
  1. Wait to bring up the subject until you are alone.
  2. Speak to them in a gentle tone of voice.
  3. Ask them about what happened in different ways.
  4. Downplay the lie that they're telling.
  5. Empathize with them.
  6. Remain silent.
  7. Share what you think happened.

What is a narcissistic liar? ›

A narcissistic liar is a person who lies to get what they want. They are often charming and persuasive. But their primary goal is always self-promotion. They want to present themselves in a certain light and believe they can get away with it.

Do chronic liars ever change? ›

Understanding what causes the lying is the only way to change a pathological liar's behavior. Treatment, which can include psychotherapy, medication, or both, will depend on whether or not the pathological lying is a symptom of an underlying psychiatric condition.

Is a chronic liar a narcissist? ›

Pathological Chronic lying – On the low end of the lying spectrum they can be dishonest, cunning, sly, clever and resourceful in creating lies. On the higher end of a pathological narcissist, the liar is deceptive, manipulative, deceitful, and unscrupulous to get at the core of a victim's insecurities.

What cures pathological liars? ›

Treatment for Pathological Lying

No medication will fix it. The best option is psychotherapy, but even that can pose challenges. That's because pathological liars may lie to their therapist instead of addressing their lying behavior.

Do pathological liars have a conscience? ›

Pathological liars have little regard or respect for the rights and feelings of others. They often have no conscience or guilt. Pathological liars base their lives around deceit and may deeply hurt their victims.

What do you call a person who hides the truth? ›

The word deceitful is a disapproving way to talk about someone or something that hides the truth. She's deeply deceitful and not to be trusted.

What is the word for unnecessary lies? ›

fib. noun. informal a lie about something that is not important.

What are words for telling lies? ›

Some common synonyms of lie are equivocate, fib, palter, and prevaricate. While all these words mean "to tell an untruth," lie is the blunt term, imputing dishonesty.

What are liars facial features? ›

Tightened jaw and forehead

Liars also tend to tense up when they're not being truthful, and this can include tightening the jaw and forehead. Both are connected to the "mental effort and stress" associated with telling a lie, according to Wenner.

What are the physical characteristics of liars? ›

Sweating or dryness: Autonomic nervous system changes can trigger liars to sweat in the T-area of the face (upper lip, forehead, chin and around the mouth) or have dryness in the mouth and eyes — the person might excessively blink or squint, lick or bite their lips or swallow hard, according to Glass.

What do you call a person that believes their own lies? ›

Pathological liars actually believe their own lies, but may change the story from telling to telling. Others realize the lie, but the liar often does not and has no remorse.

Is telling a lie Gaslighting? ›

Lying and denial are central to gaslighting because it makes the victim question their reality and even start to believe the lies despite knowing their untruthfulness. The victim must keep a record of what is said and what happens to help them confirm the truth.

What are the psychological effects of being lied to? ›

They alter our reality, reframing it through the agenda of the person who doesn't want the truth to come out. Being lied to makes you feel insecure – your version of the truth is discredited. It also makes you feel unimportant – the person lying to you didn't value you enough to tell the truth.

How do you react when someone lies to you? ›

10 Strategies for Detecting and Responding to Lying
  1. Love truth. ...
  2. Forget body language – focus on the words. ...
  3. Tell them you value honesty. ...
  4. Observe what happens when details are questioned. ...
  5. Ask open-ended questions. ...
  6. Don't let on that you know they're lying. ...
  7. Watch for the evidence of patterns of dishonesty.

What do liars do with their eyes? ›

“Many people believe that if someone is looking them straight in the eye that this is an indication of a truthful exchange, but actually practised and habitual liars tend to use eye contact to fool you – they engage greater eye contact than the average person to do this,” Barnett says.

Can liars look you in the eye? ›

Researchers say no. Science shows that liars do not avoid eye contact any more frequently than those telling the truth. The key thing to look for in eye movement is deviation from their baseline.

What do liars feel? ›

The three emotions most frequently experienced by people when they are lying are fear, guilt, and somewhat surprisingly, delight.

How do you extract the truth from someone? ›

How to Get Someone to Confess or Divulge Information
  1. Truth Fills Silence.
  2. Nod Your Head.
  3. Get Intimate.
  4. Minimize the Significance.
  5. Share Something.
  6. Play Good Cop.
  7. Build Rapport.
  8. Center Them.

How do you catch a sneaky person? ›

The whole problem with sneaky people is that they are good at hiding these signs, so you have to pay a little more attention.
  1. Intense eye contact. ...
  2. They open up very quickly. ...
  3. Massive mood swings. ...
  4. No boundaries. ...
  5. There's no empathy. ...
  6. They know a little too much about you. ...
  7. They rule the conversation. ...
  8. They move fast.

How do you get the truth out of a narcissist? ›

How to Trick a Narcissist Into Telling the Truth
  1. 1 Collect evidence in advance.
  2. 2 Approach a narcissist when you're calm.
  3. 3 Reassure them that it's safe to tell the truth.
  4. 4 Ask for simple “yes” or “no” answers.
  5. 5 Tell them not to blame anyone or anything else.
  6. 6 Say they'll lose people's respect if they keep lying.

What is the liar liar phrase? ›

"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.

How do you spot a liar explanation? ›

By closely observing facial expressions, body language and tone of voice, practically anyone can recognise the tell-tale signs of lying. Researchers are even programming computers – like those used on Lie Detector -to get at the truth by analysing the same physical cues available to the naked eye and ear.

Do liars use filler words? ›

A liar might repeat your question, add details you didn't ask for, pause, stammer, or use more filler words (“um,” “uh,” and “ah”), he says.

What is the best revenge for a liar? ›

Revenge Quotes

The best revenge on a liar is to convince him that you believe what he said.

How do you set boundaries with a compulsive liar? ›

You can state your boundaries in this way: “I will not take any lying or dishonesty, whether verbal or nonverbal. A lie is a lie whether it is hidden or not. If information is left out intentionally, this will be considered a lie. Lying is painful to me and I will not allow it to be a part of our relationship anymore.”

What type of person is a chronic liar? ›

Pathological lying, also known as mythomania and pseudologia fantastica, is the chronic behavior of compulsive or habitual lying. Unlike telling the occasional white lie to avoid hurting someone's feelings or getting in trouble, a pathological liar seems to lie for no apparent reason.

How do you stop chronic liars? ›

Instead, let them know that you know they're lying and stop the conversation. Suggest medical treatment. If the person who's lying seems distressed by their lies, you might suggest they get professional help. Therapy can help them confront the root of their lying and may lead to changed behavior.

How does compulsive lying start? ›

Compulsive lying is usually thought to develop in early childhood, due to being placed in an environment where lying was necessary and routine. A lot of them find it easy to avoid confrontations with the truth, hence they stick to lying. Compulsive liars may or may not experience a mental disorder.

Will a compulsive liar ever change? ›

Understanding what causes the lying is the only way to change a pathological liar's behavior. Treatment, which can include psychotherapy, medication, or both, will depend on whether or not the pathological lying is a symptom of an underlying psychiatric condition.

How do you get the truth out of someone? ›

6 ways to get someone to tell you the truth
  1. Go alone and bring food. It's a well-known fact that nobody confesses to a crowd. ...
  2. Take an empathetic approach. ...
  3. Don't ask questions. ...
  4. Cultivate short-term thinking. ...
  5. Stay in charge of the conversation. ...
  6. Be presumptuous, not accusatory.
Mar 10, 2022

What is the difference between a chronic liar and a pathological liar? ›

Unlike the compulsive liar, who generally knows right from wrong, a pathological liar lives with a false sense of reality. If confronted, they become defensive and never admit their lies. Some evidence from a 2007 study suggests that issues affecting the central nervous system may predispose someone to be pathological.

Why do liars repeat themselves? ›

Repetition makes a fact seem more true, regardless of whether it is or not. Understanding this effect can help you avoid falling for propaganda, says psychologist Tom Stafford. “Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth”, is a law of propaganda often attributed to the Nazi Joseph Goebbels.

What do you call a person who tells lies? ›

The meaning of the word liar

The verb in question is lie, meaning “to say something that's not true.” So, a liar is a person who lies—a person who says something they know is not true.

What is a red lie? ›

There is the red lie, which is a lie one tells to hurt another person or get even.


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