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a polite fiction

A general untruth or falsehood that is accepted in place of the truth to maintain politeness, civility, or stability among a given social group. Our parents' marriage was just a polite fiction in our household up until my youngest sister was off to college. By the time the military junta overthrew the dictatorship, the promise of democratic rule was little more than a polite fiction among the citizens of the country.
See also: fiction

Fact is stranger than fiction,

 and Truth is stranger than fiction.
Prov. Things that really happen are harder to believe or more amazing than stories that people invent. Did you see the story in the newspaper about the criminal who attacks people with a toenail clipper? Fact is stranger than fiction! Jill: I can't believe someone's paying 900 dollars for Tom's broken-down old car—it doesn't even run. Jane: Truth is stranger than fiction.
See also: fact, fiction, stranger

truth is stranger than fiction

Real life can be more remarkable than invented tales, as in In our two-month trip around the world we ran into long-lost relatives on three separate occasions, proving that truth is stranger than fiction . This expression may have been invented by Byron, who used it in Don Juan (1833).
See also: fiction, stranger, truth

ˌtruth is stranger than ˈfiction

(saying) used to say that things that actually happen are often more surprising than stories that are invented
See also: fiction, stranger, truth
References in classic literature ?
At moments his deliverances seemed to stir people of different minds to fury in two continents, so far as they were English-speaking, and on the coasts of the seven seas; and some of these came back at him with such violent personalities as it is his satisfaction to remember that he never indulged in his attacks upon their theories of criticism and fiction.
He had been moody ever since he was entrapped into being fiction editor.
which is proposed by him will do as well as any other); for a writer of fiction, and especially a writer who, like Plato, is notoriously careless of chronology, only aims at general probability.
As a genius of the highest rank observes in his fifth chapter of the Bathos, "The great art of all poetry is to mix truth with fiction, in order to join the credible with the surprizing.
If I might offer any apology for so exaggerated a fiction as the Barnacles and the Circumlocution Office, I would seek it in the common experience of an Englishman, without presuming to mention the unimportant fact of my having done that violence to good manners, in the days of a Russian war, and of a Court of Inquiry at Chelsea.
There is sometimes an odd disposition in this country to dispute as improbable in fiction, what are the commonest experiences in fact.
Csicsery-Ronay is not just opening up a more subtle understanding of what constitutes science fiction, he is also allowing more subtle readings of science fictions.
These chapters play a useful role in calling readers' attention to the boundaries between span and mainstream and science fictions and for the most part are effective in establishing span as a legitimate genre.
We can also reflect on how Buddhism's central doctrine (all things are in constant flux) can account for Johnson's often chaotic fictions.
Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, Journal of the Plague Year, and Moll Flanders are all fictions masquerading as memoirs, as are Gulliver's Travels, The Three Musketeers, and a long list of other classic works of fiction.
Moreover, the perspective students formulate from readings and lectures on novels can harden into a discriminatory filter, a rigid scheme for sifting fictions and judging their quality.
In revision, she argued, Austen moved towards a deeper personal involvement in, and discovery of, the "human core" of her fictions.
PSFS also sponsors an annual science fictions conference, PhilCon, held each November.
These fictions are about language, about themselves as fiction, about all language as fiction and about all self as language, i.
Two ways of representing the foreign - the empirical and the "culturally conditioned" - contribute to "early austral fiction," which Fausett traces back as far as Indian Ocean fictions of the Hellenistic Age, including Phaeacia in Homer's Odyssey, Plato's Atlantis, Theopompos of Chios's utopia from the mid-fourth-century B.