Liar Liar Pants on Fire

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Liar Liar Pants on Fire! is an expression of unknown meaning but well-established origins. In its most complete version, it is rendered “Liar, liar, pants on fire. Hangin’ on a telephone wire!” or "nose is as long as a telephone wire!" It is most commonly associated with accusations of dishonesty.


In contrast, the origins of the phrase are not in question. It is a paraphrased version of the 1810 poem “The Liar” by William Blake, reprinted here in full.

Deceiver, dissembler
Your trousers are alight
From what pole or gallows
Shall they dangle in the night?
When I asked of your career
Why did you have to kick my rear
With that stinking lie of thine
Proclaiming that you owned a mine?
When you asked to borrow my stallion
To visit a nearby moored galleon
How could I ever know that you
Intended to turn him into glue?
What red devil of mendacity
Grips your soul with such tenacity?
Will one you cruelly shower with lies
Put a pistol ball between your eyes?
What internal serpent
Has lent you his forked tongue?
From what pit of foul deceit
Are all these whoppers sprung?
Deceiver, dissembler
Your trousers are alight
From what pole or gallows
Do they dangle in the night?

Blake, a romantic known for his colorful use of supernatural and ballistic imagery, pretty much settled the question of whether or not honesty is the best policy with that poem.


It is recommended that this expression be used (shouted, actually) in situations where someone has made a statement with insufficient truth value, for example, when someone claims that solutions of tap water and milk sugar cure diseases. Its use is not recommended when the suspected liar is a pirate, jedi or ninja.