bald » bold

Chiefly in:   bold-faced lie

Variant(s):  boldface, bold face

Classification: English – nearly mainstream

Spotted in the wild:

  • ACU Challenges John Kerry to Prove His Whopper Is Not a Lie
    The candidate’s claim that he met with foreign leaders looks like boldfaced lie, says ACU’s Lessner (The American Conservative Union, Headline)
  • Bush = Bold-faced liar (link)
  • Those sneaky, seemingly straight shooting, look you in the eye, and bold-faced lie people. We’ve all met one. And even when every instinct is telling you they’re lying, we stand there, nodding and smiling and buying their lies. (link)

People appear to have lost their trust in the veracity of news reporting. Lies are even expected in the boldface letters of headlines, as it is illustrated by this Boondocks cartoon (which uses the term as a pun).

_Bold-faced_ has made it into WordNet, which lists the following glosses:

>audacious, barefaced, bodacious, bold-faced, brassy, brazen, brazen-faced, insolent — (unrestrained by convention or propriety; “an audacious trick to pull”; “a barefaced hypocrite”; “the most bodacious display of tourism this side of Anaheim”- Los Angeles Times; “bold-faced lies”; “brazen arrogance”; “the modern world with its quick material successes and insolent belief in the boundless possibilities of progress”- Bertrand Russell)

A variant of the original idiom is _bare-faced lie_. It is, according to this thread from the WORD-L mailing list, used in Britain, but also in parts of the United states. Just like _bald-faced_, _bare-faced_ lends itself to eggcornological reinterpretation and therefore gets an entry of its own.

| link | entered by Chris Waigl, 2005/02/13 |


  1. 1

    Commentary by Adrian Bailey , 2005/08/30 at 1:37 am

    Here in the West Midlands of England, it’s quite normal for people to say “bold” when they mean “bald”.

  2. 2

    Commentary by c , 2006/03/03 at 3:07 am…

    CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A small-town police chief was accused in a federal lawsuit Thursday of stopping a would-be rescuer from performing CPR on a gay heart attack victim because he assumed the ailing man had
    HIV and posed a health risk.

    Claude Green, 43, died June 21 after being stricken yards from City Hall in Welch, a community of about 2,400.

    The American Civil Liberties Union sued on behalf of his mother.

    Police Chief Bobby Bowman called the allegations “a boldface lie.” He said that he called an ambulance and that Green was taken to the hospital in “no more than nine minutes.”

  3. 3

    Commentary by Eric Strickland , 2006/10/17 at 11:37 pm

    I was once ridiculed by college classmates after uttering the phrase “a bald faced lie.” They convinced me that I had learned the idiom incorrectly, and that “bold faced” was correct. This was back in the late 70s.

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