a minor, polite, or harmless lie; fib.
Lay vs. Lie
The difference between the verbs lay and lie is one of English’s thornier cases of confusion. Both words involve something or someone in a horizontal position, but where the two words deviate has to do with who or what is horizontal—the subject of the verb (the one doing the action) or the direct object (the person or thing being acted upon). When to use lay …
the cake is a lie
Read more in this article about some frequently asked questions and fun facts related to our definitions.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019
a minor or unimportant lie, esp one uttered in the interests of tact or politeness
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
An untruth told to spare feelings or from politeness, as in She asked if I liked her dress, and of course I told a white lie. This term uses white in the sense of “harmless.” [First half of 1700s]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.