Boldfaced and barefaced lies

Michael Quinion TheEditor at WORLDWIDEWORDS.ORG
Tue Mar 4 14:50:51 UTC 2003

Of these two, I know that "barefaced lie" is the older form (I've so
far taken it back to a speech to the California Constitutional
Convention on 6 October 1849; that's an antedating of a whole year,
break out the champagne).

My impression from various sources is that "baldfaced lie" is now
much the more common US form (while we Brits tend to stick with
"barefaced lie"). Could some kind person give me any clues about the
date when "baldfaced lie" started to be used? My references are
totally silent on the matter.

As to that folk etymological "boldfaced lie", let's not go there!

Michael Quinion
Editor, World Wide Words
E-mail: <TheEditor at>
Web: <>

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