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On the radio today, I heard one of the hosts of the morning show use the expression "a bold-faced lie." I've always known the phrase as "a bald-faced lie." Because today was the third time recently that I've heard someone say "a bold-faced lie," I checked the dictionary. I find "bold-faced" given only as a description of heavy type. Is anyone else hearing this? Is it a change taking place, or is it just a common mistake?
 
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"Bold-faced" is definitely an eggcorn, as discussed here. Interestingly, someone from the West Midlands in England on that site says that it's normal for people there to say "bold" when they mean "bald." For the English posters here, is that true?
 
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I could have sworn it was bold-faced. I guess I learn something new every day, though I had thought I learned everything.
 
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Originally posted by Kalleh:
"Bold-faced" is definitely an eggcorn, as discussed here. Interestingly, someone from the West Midlands in England on that site says that it's normal for people there to say "bold" when they mean "bald." For the English posters here, is that true?


No it's not. We use two variants of the expression "bald-faced" and "bare-faced", the former more often followed by "lie" and the latter more often followed by "cheek".

We don't use "bold-faced" although I expect that with the rise of "bold" in its typographical senese through the use of computers will make it more common.
 
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Yes, I have seen "bold-faced" defined as "bare-faced." We don't use the latter in the U.S. I haven't been able to find the origin of "bold-faced." Does anyone know?
 
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I always thought "bold-faced lie" meant that you were lying with a boldness . . . brazenly lying, lying with great gusto and bravery (or something).

What is a bald-faced lie, then? It doesn't make much sense to me. What difference does the state of your hair have on your veracity?


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I found the following at http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/baldfaced.html:
BALDFACED, BOLDFACED, BAREFACED
The only one of these spellings recognized by the Oxford English Dictionary as meaning “shameless” is “barefaced.” Etymologies often refer to the prevalence of beards among Renaissance Englishmen, but beards were probably too common to be considered as deceptively concealing. It seems more likely that the term derived from the widespread custom at that time among the upper classes of wearing masks to social occasions where one would rather not be recognized.
 
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Did not men of yore swear by their beards?


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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Originally posted by Kalleh: "Bold-faced" is definitely an eggcorn"
Maybe so, but it's in AHD, spelled with a hyphen and defined as "1. Impudent; brazen ... 2. Printed in thick, heavy type."
 
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Well, I don't get it then. Here is what the OED says about "boldfaced":

"Having a bold or confident face or look; usually impudent. Hence bold-facedness n.

1591 SHAKES. 1 Hen. VI, IV. vi. 12 Prowd desire Of bold-fac't Victorie. 1635 QUARLES Embl. I. viii. (1718) 34 Bold-fac'd Mortals in our blushless times Can sing and smile, and make a sport of crimes. 1818 SCOTT Hrt. Midl. xxxiii, A fine, gay, bold-faced ruffian. 1832 L. HUNT Transl. Poems 264 The least pain to thy bold-facedness."

and then "baldfaced":

" Having a bald face.

1648 in Archives of Maryland (1887) IV. 425 A Bawld-facd heighfer. 1677 Lond. Gaz. No. 1237/4 A sorrel Mare..bald-faced, and but one eye. 1861 Trans. Ill. Agric. Soc. IV. 341 The nest of our bald-faced hornet is occasionally suspended in a house to kill off the house-flies. 1885 Century Mag. Nov. 60/2 He jogged along on his bald-faced bay in the bleak untempered light."

They are both listed as "Common errors in English" here. I wonder if the correct word is "barefaced."
 
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But when does common usage outweigh the old "authoritative sources"? I mean, if everyone says "bold-faced lie" or "boldfaced lie", isn't that now the term?

I say BLAST the old sources! Full speed ahead (and all that)! WE are the masters of our OWN language! and stuff


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if everyone says "bold-faced lie" or "boldfaced lie", isn't that now the term?
Certainly. If... Most dictionaries nowadays are descriptive, rather than prescriptive.

However, as Bob says, we don't use 'bold-faced' over here, so 'everyone' doesn't say it.


Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us.
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I mean, if everyone says "bold-faced lie" or "boldfaced lie", isn't that now the term?

I don't say "bold-faced;" in fact, I have always thought that those who do say it are saying it wrong...like an eggcorn. That's why I was surprised to actually see "bold-faced" in a dictionary. I suppose it is like "irregardless;" at some point it has been accepted.

It's origin clearly indicates that the correct word is "bald-faced" or "bare-faced," doesn't it?...unless "bold-faced" is an entirely different word with a different meaning.

Great question, Saranita!
 
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However, as Bob says, we don't use 'bold-faced' over here, so 'everyone' doesn't say it.

Well. . . all y'all just talks funny over thar.


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~Dalai Lama
 
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Brings to mind the poem by John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892).

I seem to recall lines like "Oh bare-faced boy, with ton of cheek..."


RJA
 
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Well. . . all y'all just talks funny over thar.

I always knew I was British at heart. Wink
 
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