Is it a Bald-Faced or Bold-Faced Lie?

istock / istock

When a child with chocolate smeared on his face assures Mom that he didn't steal his brother's candy bar, is he telling a bald-faced or bold-faced lie?

There is often confusion about which word, bald or bold, is the correct one in this particular idiom. But fret no more, we now have the definitive answer: They’re both acceptable.

Most sources agree that the original expression, coined in the late 1600s, was actually barefaced lie. At that time, bare meant brazen or bold. At that time in history, almost all men sported a full set of whiskers, and it was considered quite daring or even audacious for a male to be clean-shaven, or barefaced. Eventually, the word for “hairless” went from bare to bald, and so did the description of a blatant fib.

Bold-faced is now considered acceptable as well, since bold has the same meaning as bare originally did. Also, it can technically refer to a falsehood that appears in print in a bold typeface. The easiest way out of this maze of idioms, obviously, is to simply tell the truth at all times.