Hoyt & Roberts, comps. Hoyt’s New Cyclopedia of Practical Quotations. 1922.


A giurar presti i mentitor son sempre.
Liars are always most disposed to swear.
Alfieri—Virginia. II. 3.

Se non volea pulir sua scusa tanto,
Che la facesse di menzogna rea.
But that he wrought so high the specious tale,
As manifested plainly ’twas a lie.
Ariosto—Orlando Furioso. XVIII. 84.

And none speaks false, when there is none to hear.
Beattie—The Minstrel. Bk. II. St. 24.

And, after all, what is a lie? ’Tis but
The truth in masquerade.
Byron—Don Juan. Canto XI. St. 37.

I tell him, if a clergyman, he lies!
If captains the remark, or critics, make,
Why they lie also—under a mistake.
Byron—Don Juan.

Resolved to die in the last dyke of prevarication.
Burke—Impeachment of Warren Hastings. (May 7, 1789.)

Quoth Hudibras, I smell a rat;
Ralpho, thou dost prevaricate.
Butler—Hudibras. Pt. I. Canto I. L. 821.

You lie—under a mistake—
For this is the most civil sort of lie
That can be given to a man’s face, I now
Say what I think.
Calderon—El Magico Prodigioso. Sc. 1. Trans. by Shelley.

Ita enim finitima sunt falsa veris ut in præcipitem locum non debeat se sapiens committere.
So near is falsehood to truth that a wise man would do well not to trust himself on the narrow edge.
Cicero—Academici. IV. 21.

Mendaci homini ne verum quidem dicenti credere solemus.
A liar is not believed even though he tell the truth.
Cicero—De Divinatione. II. 71. Same idea in Phædrus—Fables. I. 10. 1.

The silent colossal National Lie that is the support and confederate of all the tyrannies and shams and inequalities and unfairnesses that afflict the peoples—that is the one to throw bricks and sermons at.
S. L. Clemens (Mark Twain)—My First Lie.

An experienced, industrious, ambitious, and often quite picturesque liar.
S. L. Clemens (Mark Twain)—My Military Campaign.

Un menteur est toujours prodigue de serments.
A liar is always lavish of oaths.
Corneille—Le Menteur. III. 5.

Il faut bonne mémoire après qu’on a menti.
A good memory is needed once we have lied.
Corneille—Le Menteur. IV. 5.

Some truth there was, but dash’d and brew’d with lies,
To please the fools, and puzzle all the wise.
Dryden—Absalom and Achitophel.

Wenn ich irre kann es jeder bemerken; wenn ich lüge, nicht.
When I err every one can see it, but not when I lie.
Goethe—Sprüche in Prosa. III.

As ten millions of circles can never make a square, so the united voice of myriads cannot lend the smallest foundation to falsehood.
Goldsmith—Vicar of Wakefield. Vol. II. Ch. VIII.

Half the world knows not how the other half lies.
Herbert—Jacula Prudentum.

Show me a liar, and I will show thee a thief.
Herbert—Jacula Prudentum.

Dare to be true: nothing can need a lie;
A fault which needs it most, grows two thereby.
Herbert—Church Porch.

Sin has many tools, but a lie is the handle which fits them all.
Holmes—Autocrat of the Breakfast Table. VI.

Who dares think one thing, and another tell,
My heart detests him as the gates of hell.
Homer—Iliad. Bk. IX. L. 412. Pope’s trans.

Urge him with truth to frame his fair replies;
And sure he will; for wisdom never lies.
Homer—Odyssey. Bk. III. L. 25. Pope’s trans.

For my part getting up seems not so easy
By half as lying.
Hood—Morning Meditations.

Splendide mendax.
Splendidly mendacious.
Horace—Carmina. III. 11. 35.

Round numbers are always false.
Samuel Johnson—Johnsoniana. Apothegms, Sentiment, etc. From Hawkins’ Collective Edition.

Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus.
False in one thing, false in everything.
Law Maxim.

For no falsehood can endure
Touch of celestial temper.
Milton—Paradise Lost. Bk. IV. L. 811.

Qui ne sent point assez ferme de memoire, ne se doit pas mêler d’être menteur.
Who is not sure of his memory should not attempt lying.
Montaigne—Of Liars. Bk. I. Ch. IX.

Hercle audivi esse optimum mendacium.
Quicquid dei dicunt, id rectum est dicere.
By Hercules! I have often heard that your piping-hot lie is the best of lies: what the gods dictate, that is right.
Plautus—Mostellaria. III. 1. 134.

Playing the Cretan with the Cretans (i.e. lying to liars).
Plutarch, quoting Greek prov. used by Paulus Æmilius.

Some lie beneath the churchyard stone,
And some before the Speaker.
Praed—School and School Fellows.

I said in my haste, All men are liars.
Psalms. CXVI. 11.

Mendacem memorem esse oportet.
It is fitting that a liar should be a man of good memory.
Quintilian. IV. 2. 91.

Ce mensonge immortel.
That immortal lie.
Rev. Père de Ravignan. Found in Poujoulat’s Sa Vie, ses Œuvres.

He will lie, sir, with such volubility, that you would think truth were a fool.
All’s Well That Ends Well. Act IV. Sc. 3. L. 283.

To lapse in fulness
Is sorer than to lie for need, and falsehood
Is worse in kings than beggars.
Cymbeline. Act III. Sc. 6. L. 12.

Your bait of falsehood takes this carp of truth.
Hamlet. Act II. Sc. 1. L. 63.

’Tis as easy as lying.
Hamlet. Act III. Sc. 2. L. 372.

These lies are like the father that begets them; gross as a mountain, open, palpable.
Henry IV. Pt. I. Act II. Sc. 4. L. 249.

Lord, Lord, how this world is given to lying! I grant you I was down and out of breath; and so was he: but we rose both at an instant and fought a long hour by Shrewsbury clock.
Henry IV. Pt. I. Act V. Sc. 4. L. 149.

For my part, if a lie may do thee grace,
I’ll gild it with the happiest terms I have.
Henry IV. Pt. I. Act V. Sc. 4. L. 161.

Lord, Lord, how subject we old men are to the vice of lying!
Henry IV. Pt. II. Act III. Sc. 2. L. 325.

Whose tongue soe’er speaks false,
Not truly speaks; who speaks not truly, lies.
King John. Act IV. Sc. 3. L. 91.

An evil soul producing holy witness
Is like a villain with a smiling cheek;
A goodly apple rotten at the heart:
O, what a goodly outside falsehood hath!
Merchant of Venice. Act I. Sc. 3. L. 100.

Had I a heart for falsehood framed.
I ne’er could injure you.
R. B. Sheridan—The Duenna. Act I. Sc. 5.

This shows that liars ought to have good memories.
Algernon Sidney—Discourses on Government. Ch. II. Sec. XV.

A lie never lives to be old.
Sophocles—Acrisius. Frag. 59.

I mean you lie—under a mistake.
Swift—Polite Conversation. Dialogue 1. Same phrase used by De Quincey, Southey, Landor.

That a lie which is half a truth is ever the blackest of lies;
That a lie which is all a lie may be met and fought with outright—
But a lie which is part a truth is a harder matter to fight.
Tennyson—The Grandmother. St. 8.

And he that does one fault at first,
And lies to hide it, makes it two.
Watts—Song XV.

I give him joy that’s awkward at a lie.
Young—Night Thoughts. Night VIII. L. 361.