a polite fiction

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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
References in classic literature ?
Peggotty to understand that she was as jolly as I could wish, and that she desired her compliments - which was a polite fiction on my part.
Sterne posits an incompatibility between Christianity and the polite fictions of refined sensibility, particularly as each is used to confront the pain of mourning; he reconciles this conflict with a sensitivity that, although in often patently impolite taste, is consistent with his faith and is clearly articulated in his theological writings.
The time for maintaining Chinese walls and polite fictions has expired.