(little) white lie

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(little) white lie

A lie thought to be insignificant and justified, especially one told to avoid hurting someone's feelings or giving offense. I try to be honest most of the time, but I do tell white lies when I'm worried about upsetting people. A: "Do you actually like her new haircut?" B: "Of course not, but I couldn't tell her that, so I told a little white lie instead."
See also: lie, white
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

little white lie

Fig. a small, usually harmless lie; a fib. Every little white lie you tell is still a lie and it is still meant to mislead people.
See also: lie, little, white
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

white lie

An untruth told to spare feelings or from politeness, as in She asked if I liked her dress, and of course I told a white lie. This term uses white in the sense of "harmless." [First half of 1700s]
See also: lie, white
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

a white lie

If you tell a white lie, you say something which is untrue, often in order to protect someone or to avoid upsetting someone. I said she looked nice, thinking it kinder to tell a white lie. I believe that this is a case where a little white lie is really more appropriate than the truth.
See also: lie, white
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

a white ˈlie

a small or harmless lie that you tell to avoid hurting somebody: When she asked me if I liked her new dress I had to tell a white lie. I thought it looked awful, but I couldn’t say so!
See also: lie, white
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
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