believe it or not

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Mon Dec 10 23:34:10 UTC 2012

Wilson Gray wrote
> Jonathan Lighter  wrote:
>> Here's a folk saying that seems to have been overlooked despite its
>> excellence:
> "He lies when the truth can't hurt."
> Again, I'm surprised. I couldn't find a single instance of it.

Here are some quotes that I think are distinct but thematically
related to the one given by Wilson. The 2004 instance is a closer

Cite: 1829 April 15, Hampshire Gazette, Catholics In New York, Page 2,
Column 1, Northampton, Massachusetts. (GenealogyBank)
[Begin excerpt]
She says her prayers and counts her beads with great devotion; she
goes to confession regularly, and she fasts twice a week, and on such
days will not taste meat, fat, or butter, as though her salvation
depended upon her abstinence: but at the same time she does not mind
telling a lie, even when truth would do best.
[End excerpt]

Yale Book of Quotations has:
[Begin excerpt]
Gore Vidal
U.S. novelist and critic, 1925–
He will lie even when it is inconvenient, the sign of the true artist.
Two Sisters (1970)
[End excerpt]

Title: Battlefield Earth
Author: L. Ron Hubbard
Year: 2011 (First published in 1982)
Page: Not given in preview. Part 6: Subpart 11
(Google Books Preview)
[Begin excerpt]
He is treacherous, vicious, sadistic and devious. He lies from choice
even when the truth will serve.
[End excerpt]

Title: Wolf Pass
Author: Steve Thayer
Year: 2004
Page: 210
(Unverified Google books snippet data; Data may be inaccurate)
[Begin extracted text]
I've seen his social skills." She continued. "What he likes best is
exercising his power over others. He will lie endlessly. He will lie
even when the truth won't hurt him. If one lie is exposed, he will
make up another on the spot.
[End extracted text]


The American Dialect Society -

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