From Middle English falshede, from false + -hede.



falsehood (countable and uncountable, plural falsehoods)

  1. (uncountable) The property of being false.
    • 1976, Willard Van Orman Quine, The Ways of Paradox, and other essays, page 89:
      Every such idiom is what is known as a truth function, and is characterized by the fact that the truth or falsehood of the complex statement which it generates is uniquely determined by the truth or falsehood of the several statements which it combines.
  2. (countable) A false statement, especially an intentional one; a lie.
    Don't tell falsehoods.
  3. (archaic, rare) Mendacity, deceitfulness; the trait of a person who is mendacious and deceitful.
    • 1817, Robert Stevenson, Scripture Portraits, volume 1, page 155:
    • 1963, M. Arthur Macauliffe, The Sikh Religion: its Gurus, Sacred Writings and Authors, page 7:
      O mortal, eschew falsehood and flattery. Death flayeth and killeth the false one: The apostate suffereth for his falsehood and pride; he is tormented in both worlds. Renounce slander and envy of others.
    • 1984, Witness Lee, Life-Study: Revelation: Volume Three: Messages 34-50, Living Stream Ministry (1999), →ISBN, page 511:
      The false prophet looks like a lamb, but speaks like a dragon. This indicates his falsehood. [] He will pretend to be the same as Christ.
    • 2006 October 7, Jacki Lyden, “Italian Pop Star Takes on U.S. Music Market”, in NPR All Things Considered:
      Lyden: That was wonderful. Could I read just what is the refrain here in English? Ms-Consoli: Yeah. Lyden: Look into my eyes. Take off all falsehood. The aura of pureness reveals fiendish anomalies. And you know what I mean


  • Syn. Falsehood, Falseness, Falsity; untruth, fabrication, fiction. Instances may be quoted in abundance from old authors to show that the first three words are often strictly synonymous; but the modern tendency has been decidedly in favor of separating them, falsehood standing for the concrete thing, an intentional lie; falseness, for the quality of being guiltily false or treacherous: as, he is justly despised for his falseness to his oath; and falsity, for the quality of being false without blame: as, the falsity of reasoning. — the Century Dictionary, 1911.
  • Micah 2:11 (KJV):
    If a man walking in the spirit and falsehood do lie, saying, I will prophesy unto thee of wine and of strong drink; he shall even be the prophet of this people.
  • 1909, John Potts, Secret Lodge System:
    The lodge upheld, sustained and honored this man in his double life, his deceit, his falsehood, his hypocrisy.