What Does “White Lie” Mean?

Explore the concept of white lies, their meaning, origin, and the psychology behind them. Learn how white lies can affect relationships and the importance of balancing honesty and tact.

Understanding White Lies

White lies are a common part of everyday language.

They are often used to avoid hurting someone’s feelings or to maintain social harmony.

In this section, the definition and origin of white lies will be discussed, as well as the psychology behind them and their role in relationships.

Definition and Origin

According to Merriam-Webster, a white lie is “a lie about a small or unimportant matter that someone tells to avoid hurting another person.” The term “white lie” is believed to have originated in the 1700s as a way to describe a trivial or unimportant matter.

The use of the word “white” likely derives from its association with purity and goodness.

White vs.

Black Lies

White lies are often contrasted with “black lies,” which are more serious and intended to deceive or harm someone.

While white lies are generally considered harmless, they can still be a form of deception.

It is important to consider the intent behind the lie and the potential consequences.

Psychology Behind White Lies

The psychology behind white lies is complex.

People may tell white lies as a form of tact or to avoid conflict.

They may also tell them as a gesture of kindness or to provide comfort.

In some cases, people may tell white lies as a refuge from the truth or to avoid injuring someone emotionally.

Can You Explain the Meaning of “In Black and White” in Relation to the Phrase “White Lie”?

The meaning of “in black and white” refers to something being clearly stated or documented.

When it comes to the phrase “white lie,” it represents a harmless or trivial lie told to avoid hurting someone.

The meanings of in black and white and white lie are both related to clear communication and honesty.

White Lies in Relationships

White lies can play a role in maintaining relationships.

People may tell white lies to avoid hurting their partner’s feelings or to avoid conflicts.

However, it is important to recognize that white lies can also erode trust over time.

It is important to find a balance between honesty and tact in relationships.

Example Sentences:

  • She told a little white lie to avoid hurting his feelings.
  • He used a white lie as an excuse for being late to the meeting.
  • They told a white lie to avoid conflict with their neighbor.


  • Fib
  • Harmless lie
  • Untruth