Is there a word for "lying" by telling the truth?

I had an experience once where I asked somebody a question, and the answer they gave was true.

However, the truth was so unbelievable, that I didn’t believe them. I only found out much later on they had in fact told the truth.

Reflecting on the encounter, I believe the person told me the truth knowing I wouldn’t believe them, and they wanted it that way, meaning they were deliberately deceiving me by telling me the truth.

Is there a word for this?

Was there something in their delivery that made it sound like they were being sarcastic, or trying to put something past you? When you didn’t believe it, did they say “you got me”?

Was it the complete truth? Example: a man sees a friend coming back from fishing -

Q: Hey, Bob! You catch anything?

A (mildly disgusted): Nothing more than sixteen inches.

Hint: Bob didn’t catch anything.

I’m not certain this is exactly the same situation, but this cite calls deceiving with the truth “paltering.”:

There is probably a 20 letter long German word for it.

You could do a lot worse than just say “misleading”.

Sounds a bit like malicious compliance.

That reminds me of a line of dialogue on an outer limits episode.

Man 1: You look terrible, what happened to you?
Man 2: Oh this? A rent a cop shot me in the head

As to the term, I don’t know. The closest I can come up with is ‘incredulity’.

Thanks for that article. I didn’t know that word. I probably would have called that tactic “being disingenuous”, but I’m glad to know the more precise term. That seems fairly close to the OP’s situation.

Slight aside: the question reminds me of the movie Grosse Point Blank, where the hitman played by John Cusack goes to his high school reunion. When anyone asks him what he does for a living, he tells them he’s a hitman, and they all think he’s kidding. He’s able to rekindle his relationship with his ex girlfriend partly because she assumes he’s lying to her about being a hitman.

If “paltering” isn’t the right word, I propose “blanking” or “Grosse Pointing”.

There was nothing unusual about their tone. It was a simple, matter of fact tone. I don’t know if I reacted with enough disbelief to prompt them for any sort of follow up comment.

Yes, the complete truth.

Thanks for this, I’ve never heard the word before.

I don’t think what happened to me exactly fits the definition of paltering. Your cite gives the example of Bill Clinton making a truthful statement that when examined closely, didn’t technically answer the interviewer’s question.

In my case, the other party correctly and truthfully answered the exact question I asked them.

EDIT Yes, just like the example Defensive Indifference gave from the movie Grosse Point Blank. A 100% truthful answer that addressed the exact question being asked.

Grosse Pointing sounds like a function performed by a knowledgeable but very clumsy hunting dog, or maybe a custom among eighth-grade girls, pointing at things and exclaiming “Ewwww! Grosse!” :slight_smile:

Lying by omission.



I think lying by omission is the most effective and applicable. Someone says things that are true but omits important facts so as to lead a person to a conclusion that’s materially different than the actual truth.

Wife to husband on a business trip: So what did you do last night?

Husband: Oh, went out with some colleagues, had a few drinks. Had a great meal at a Vegas restaurant. Saw a show. Came home late. Went to bed.

(Went to bed with someone other than his wife)

And no I don’t speak from experience. Married nearly a decade and would never.

I understand what you’re saying, but in my case, this isn’t what happened. In my case, the other party gave me the whole truth, and left out no important bits.

I simply did not believe them, and I think they knew I wouldn’t believe them.

That’s not lying, by any stretch of the imagination.

Right. That’s called telling the truth. It’s not deceitful in any way, shape, or form

It’s deceitful if they knew you did not believe them, and knew they could convince you if they wished, but chose not too.
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It’s not deceitful to fail to try and convince somebody of the truth of what you have already told them. They are deceiving themselves; you are not undeceiving them. But that’s not the same thing.

I think if you’re telling someone the God’s honest truth, leaving out no important bits, but are very confident they will not believe you, then to not at least preface what you’re saying with “this is going to sound hard to believe, but…” then I think it’s deceitful.

According to Lazarus Long, IIRC, there are 3 creative ways to lie.

  1. Say nothing.
  2. Tell the truth, nothing but the truth, but not all the truth.
  3. Tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth very unconvincingly.

How is the whole truth deceitful? If somebody chooses not to accept what they are told, that’s down to them.