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From Middle English lier, liere, lyere, liȝer, lieȝer, legher, from Old English lēgere, lēogere (liar, false witness, hypocrite), from Old English lēogan (to lie, deceive, belie, betray, be in error, charge falsely), equivalent to lie +‎ -er. Cognate with Old High German liogāri, liugāri ("liar"; > Middle High German liegære, lieger (liar) > archaic German Lüger (liar)), Old Norse ljúgari ("liar"; > Icelandic lygari (liar)). Compare also German Lügner (liar), Swedish lögnare (liar). More at lie.



liar (plural liars)

  1. One who tells lies.
    • 1963, Margery Allingham, chapter 15, in The China Governess[1]:
      She paused and took a defiant breath. ‘If you don't believe me, I can't help it. But I'm not a liar.’ ¶ ‘No,’ said Luke, grinning at her. ‘You're not dull enough! [] What about the kid's clothes? I don't suppose they were anything to write home about, but didn't you keep anything? []
  2. (nautical, obsolete) A swabber responsible for cleaning the outside parts of the ship rather than the cabins, a role traditionally assigned to a person caught telling a lie the previous week.
    • 1703, Sir William Monson, Sir William Monson's Naval Tracts in Six Books (page 348)
      The Swabber is to keep the Cabbins, and all the Rooms of the Ship clean within board, and the Liar to do the like without board. The Liar holds his Place but for a week; and he that is first taken with a Lie upon a Monday morning, [] for that week he is under the Swabber, and meddles not with making clean the Ship within board, but without.
    • 2005, Caleb H. Johnson, The Mayflower and Her Passengers (page 35)
      The swabber, perhaps the lowliest position on the ship, was responsible for cleaning the decks. By tradition, each Monday a new crewmember was appointed the liar—the first person caught telling a lie the previous week.





From Latin ligāre, present active infinitive of ligō, possibly through the intermediate of Old French lier in the Middle Ages, as it appeared relatively late in Spanish texts[1]. See also the doublet ligar, a semi-learned term, as well as the inherited Old Spanish form legar (to tie, bind) (in modern Spanish, this word survives as a rare regionalism, often with a specialized sense such as "tie or bind a sheep for shearing", or "to join together, unite").


  • IPA(key): /ˈljaɾ/, [ˈljaɾ]


liar (first-person singular present lío, first-person singular preterite lie, past participle liado)

  1. to bind, tie
  2. to wrap, wrap up
  3. to roll (a cigarette)
  4. (colloquial) to deceive, confuse
  5. (reflexive, colloquial, Spain) to french, snog, make out


Derived termsEdit





  1. indefinite plural of lie