Meaning | Synonyms
- a harmless lie
- a small or unimportant lie
- a lie that that is meant to spare someone's feelings
- to lie about a small or unimportant matter
- Telling your friend that you like their new haircut, when you really don't, is an example of a white lie.
- Sometimes it is better to tell a white lie than to hurt someone's feelings.
- You should not be worried about your son's white lie.
- Sometime, even a white lie may disturb your married life.
- Sara's white lie led an innocent young man to his death.
- Americans believe a white lie — an acceptable stretching of truth's limits.
- Many times a white lie can seem the ideal tool to keep the things around you balanced.
Most dictionaries state that the term originated in the 1740s. It refers to the idea that white is good and pure, and black is the polar opposite of it.
However, some sources state that the first use of the term can be traced back to a letter that was written in the 14th century. The writer states:
"I do assure you he is vnsusspected of any vntruithe or oder notable cryme (excepte a white lye)"
The word "lie" dates back to the 900s. Initially there was no colour attached to the kind of lie that was told. However, white was seen as pure and free of any immorality. Thus, if a lie is white it is not meant to inflict any damage.
In recent years people have come to believe that the term can be used to stir up racial tension. As there is no "black lie" to contrast it, the argument is believed to be baseless.