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Is there any subtle difference in meaning between [1] and [2], or can they be used interchangeably?

[1] "Something" lulls "someone" into a false sense of security

[2] "Something" gives "someone" a false sense of security

Thank you.

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    Have you looked up "lull" in a dictionary? The difference between the two sentences is the difference between "lull someone into" and "give someone"
    – gotube
    Sep 20, 2022 at 6:55
  • I have looked up the definitions of both phrases in many dictionaries. They are pretty similar if not the same.
    – user161917
    Sep 20, 2022 at 6:59
  • Example 1 (Collins): Give (one) a false sense of security = "If something gives you a false sense of security, it makes you believe that you are safe when you are not." collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/…
    – user161917
    Sep 20, 2022 at 7:04
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    No, "lull" and "give" are not the same. "The Free Dictionary" isn't a reliable source. Their definition doesn't convey the difference in meaning. That said, my favourite dictionary didn't have a definition of "lull" that made it clearly different from "give", so I guess I'd better give an answer. The Free Dictionary example of cameras at home is a terrible one because there's no sense of the slow change from feeling unsafe to feeling safe that is part of the meaning of "lull".
    – gotube
    Sep 20, 2022 at 7:17
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    I do understand the difference in the meanings of "lull" and "give" as standalone words. The question is whether "lull" and "give" can be used interchangeably in the above phrases. Thank you.
    – user161917
    Sep 20, 2022 at 7:25

1 Answer 1

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To give someone a false sense of security means to make someone believe they are safe when they are not. This can be an immediate effect, like if you see lots of security guards, you may feel an event is safe.

To lull someone into a false sense of security means slowly, over time, to make someone relax enough that they feel safe when they're not. The aspect of a long time is very important. If something dangerous is consistently presented as something benign or even safe, over time, it will make people believe that it is safe. Marijuana use is a good example. It's now pervasive in most places where is has been decriminalized. This is giving people the impression that it's basically harmless. They've been lulled --over time-- into a false sense of security.

"Lull" comes from the same root as "lullaby", which is a song used to soothe crying children and help them fall asleep. Lulling someone has the same effect of soothing over time.

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  • Thank you very much for your answer!
    – user161917
    Sep 20, 2022 at 7:34

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