Is 'falsehood' more 'lie' than 'mistake' or 'incorrect'?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by karlalou, Oct 10, 2016.

  1. karlalou Banned

    Hi everyone,

    Is 'falsehood' generally used to mean more 'lie' than 'mistake' or 'incorrect'?
    I think the word itself just says 'incorrect', but I'm not very sure..
    Is it like 'wrong cover'? and tends to imply 'on purpose'?
  2. Hildy1 Senior Member

    English - US and Canada
    Usually, to call something a falsehood suggests that it is intended to deceive people.
  3. karlalou Banned

    I see. Thanks for your answer.
  4. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English
    Both a falsehood and a lie intend to deceive; a mistake or incorrect response might yield the same answer but the intention to deceive would be lacking.
  5. Hildy1 Senior Member

    English - US and Canada

    And to add another detail: it is possible to make a false statement (one that is not true) that is not a falsehood (a deliberate lie).
  6. A lie is a lie by any other name.
  7. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English
    If you repeat false information that you believe is correct, is it a lie?
  8. Hildy1 Senior Member

    English - US and Canada
    In that case I would say that you are not lying; you are just wrong.
  9. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English
    Exactly. Intent is what makes it a lie.

    Although newspaper reporters are expected to find corroboration before printing, the rest of us are generally not held to that same standard.
  10. dojibear Senior Member

    Fresno CA
    English - Northeast US
    Maybe "falsehood" implies an intentional lie - I am not sure about that.

    But "false" does not have that implication. It simply means "incorrect".
  11. karlalou Banned

    Thank you, everybody.
    I took so much time to digest it, but.. so, the word itself says wrong-hood, but it's used as equivalent to 'lie'.
  12. Let's say I honestly think Shanghai is the capital of China and go around telling everybody that it is. I'm not lying, I'm spreading false information that I believe to be true. My "falsehood" is accidental.

    Let's say I know Beijing is the capital, but I'm mad at my little brother who's preparing for a test, and I maliciously tell him that it's Shanghai just so he will fail the exam. My falsehood is deliberate and mean, and hurts someone else for my own benefit.

    It's not really equivalent to a simple lie, because the evil power and dark circumstances surrounding my plotting put it into another category.
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2016
  13. karlalou Banned

    Thank you for your explanation, Dale Texas!!
    I think 'falsehood' includes not only 'lie', but also any other wrong states, even mistakes, and it's often used to say something is a lie in formal tone.
  14. Pab Lo

    Pab Lo Member

    English - US
    At least In American English a lie is much stronger than falsehood and stresses that the person who is "lying" is intentionally trying to deceive. It will make the other person angry. Falsehood is much softer. You are "mistaken"or that is "erroneous" information you are giving, are examples of even softer ways of saying that what somebody says is not factually correct. If you watch or read the US news these days, you will get a very good understanding of the subtleties of these words. They are constantly being used. We've even created a new one: "alternative facts." :)
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2017
  15. karlalou Banned

    Thanks, Pab Lo! :)

    It seems liars who are defending themselves wrongly are responsible for the need for that new word.

    I've found that, according to the most popular answer at the Urban Dictionary, it's the worst of four kinds of lies.

    I didn't know this word "Lies, damned lies, and statistics", but the poster added the 4th to it.

    So, Mark Twain and others had been warning about statistics, and I say that is great.
    The fact that the majority's opinion is often not right is very much related to this issue. I would like to get into this topic.

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