When someone said something wrong and realized that instantly so wanted to correct that, is this expression often used?

for example) "Take a left at the corner. Oh I lied, you should take a right."

If it is not usually used, please let me know another one I can use instead of that. And it sounds kinda informal. If so, how should I say in more formal context?

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    One important warning: never tell someone else, “You lied ” when it might’ve been an innocent mistake. This is self-deprecating irony, and “lied” normally implies intentional dishonesty.
    – Davislor
    Commented Dec 26, 2022 at 21:15
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    There’s also another use of “I lied”, which is as a quippy response to someone objecting to you reneging on an agreement you made. Probably used more in fiction than in real life.
    – RLH
    Commented Dec 27, 2022 at 7:00
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    @Davislor - I really think you're reading far too much into a very common usage in English... Saying "oops I lied" to correct a mistake you just made is fine and nobody will think you actually lied Commented Dec 27, 2022 at 17:25
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    @Davislor A great example of why you should stop answering questions in the comment section. Most actual answers contradict your statement, but there's no way to refute it, and it shows up as the first "answer" to the question.
    – pipe
    Commented Dec 27, 2022 at 18:32
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    @pipe It’s not an answer! I said not to use a different, related expression, “You lied!” the same way. This only works in the first person. There’s one commenter who misread, and none of the answers “refute” it, that is, claim you can tell someone else that he or she lied.
    – Davislor
    Commented Dec 28, 2022 at 0:00

8 Answers 8


In my dialect of US English, the usage of "I lied" that you describe is quite common. It's informal and usually said with a bit of irony: By saying "I lied" instead of "I was wrong," you imply that you intended to deceive the other—a bit of a self-deprecating joke, with a subtextual meaning of "don't place too much faith in me."

Like other hyperbolic idioms such as "literally" and "awesome," as time has gone on, the sense of irony embedded in "I lied" seems to have flattened out, and you might hear people say "I lied" as a synonym for "I was wrong" without pausing to check if the other person got the joke.

Other commenters from the US say they do not recognize this idiom; this is probably due to regional and/or generational variation in usage.

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    I've noticed a similar idiom in some Dutch speakers: saying "Grapje!" ("Just kidding!", lit. "Little joke!") after making a mistake in informal conversations.
    – Jasmijn
    Commented Dec 26, 2022 at 23:08
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    I don't personally use it, but yes, as a Mid-Atlantic Am.E speaker (raised inside D.C. Beltway, born in the '80s), I recognize, and would immediately understand "I lied" in this context to mean "I was wrong" (with a mild level of self-deprecating humor). It's not common, but I've heard this usage (or the British "I tell a lie", which I suspect learned from a few British stand-up comedians and British sitcoms) enough to understand it without batting an eye. Commented Dec 27, 2022 at 1:56
  • I don't use it, and as a Mid-Atlantic Am.E speaker, I've never heard it before. This answer should specify at least one dialect in which this expression is supposedly present. "I heard it one time" isn't sufficient standard to say an expression exists. Nor is "You could use it as a joke, because it means the opposite of what you'd think". Any expression could be used thus, and ELLs should absolutely avoid attempting such uses.
    – Xerxes
    Commented Dec 27, 2022 at 15:00
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    As a Mid-Atlantic Am.E. speaker, I've heard this often over many decades. It strikes me as a perfectly normal part of informal speech with family or friends, although it would be very strange to hear, for example, if someone wanted to acknowledge an error at work. Apparently, region is not enough to filter out what part of the US population finds this unremarkable vs never used nor observed. Commented Dec 27, 2022 at 16:56
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    As a Canadian who has also lived in New York, and has a British parent, I'd say this is 1) Fairly common, 2) Would be understood properly (as meaning, "whoops, that was wrong") by most native English speakers even if they had not heard it before, 3) Probably not regional unless "used to some degree in most of North America and the UK" counts as "regional".
    – goldilocks
    Commented Dec 28, 2022 at 17:50

British people often say 'I tell a lie' if they want to immediately correct a mistaken utterance:

So you go along the High Street, then you go left - no, I tell a lie - you go right - then you see the mall on your right.

Joe was born in ninety-two, no, I tell a lie, ninety-three, so that makes him twenty-nine this year.

I tell a lie
mainly UK

something you say when you have just said something wrong and want to correct it:

Her name is Paula, no, I tell a lie (= I'm wrong) - it's Pauline.

I tell a lie (Cambridge Dictionary)

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    It's a bit old fashioned - mostly used, I suspect, by old codgers like me.
    – WS2
    Commented Dec 26, 2022 at 0:04
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    @WS2 - I agree it's old codger-ish, but I know a bloke of about 45 who says it a lot. In my youth it was the sort of cliché you could use to caricature a certain type of Southern England suburban type from e.g. Purley. Commented Dec 26, 2022 at 10:51
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    I've seen that expression a lot in books by Ngaio Marsh, detective novels set in London and written in the 1930s.
    – Stef
    Commented Dec 26, 2022 at 11:04
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    @Stef - my mother had a stack of those, and also Anne Hocking. Commented Dec 26, 2022 at 11:59
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    This is exactly how I would use "I lied" in American English.
    – AAM111
    Commented Dec 27, 2022 at 2:27

In American (US) English, you would say "I was mistaken" or "That's my mistake" (fairly formal) or just "My mistake" (conversational, often preceded by "oh" or "oops"). And then "My bad!" is extremely informal and trendy.

Lying implies an intent to deceive but mistake does not. The verb "to err" also means what you want, like "I'm afraid I've erred, so sorry" is correct but extremely old-fashioned and you would never hear anything like that in normal conversation.

You could also say "I lied" but only if it's obvious that you couldn't possibly have intended to deceive. I would probably never use it unless I was with close friends AND I was trying to be funny.

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    In my dialect of US English, the usage of "I lied" that the OP described is quite common. I wonder if this is a regional or generational thing? For what it's worth, I'm not sure "my bad" is "trendy" anymore—my younger colleagues make fun of this as a slang idiom from the late 00s or so. I posted a separate answer.
    – Max
    Commented Dec 26, 2022 at 15:51
  • It might be regional - where I am (NYC) it would be understandable, but is not what I'd call common at all.
    – stangdon
    Commented Dec 26, 2022 at 18:46
  • Yeah, it's not common in my area (Texas), but I've heard it, and I would definitely understand the self-deprecating humor of it. Commented Dec 26, 2022 at 23:41
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    It is not that British people, of whatever vintage, don't understand that intent is essential in order to lie. It is perhaps that British people make more use of irony and self-deprecation in everyday idiom.
    – WS2
    Commented Dec 26, 2022 at 23:53
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    It's very common here, US mid-east coast. If anything, maybe more common with "older" people (millennial/gen X), not sure what the actual kids are saying these days. Commented Dec 27, 2022 at 15:23

"I lied" would be a comical way of expressing it.

Other ways would be "whoops, I meant the left." and "err, not, the left."

Given the informal context, just about anything that expresses that a mistake was made would clarify that you were correcting not giving the next direction.

  • Comedic relief is the first thing I thought of : youtube.com/watch?v=_wk-jT9rn-8&t=9s
    – Mazura
    Commented Dec 26, 2022 at 6:52
  • Comic relief is not what I think of at all. Commented Dec 26, 2022 at 18:05
  • @JohnBollinger Generally the tone will convey the joking aspect.
    – Mary
    Commented Dec 26, 2022 at 18:24
  • I certainly agree that in the OP's context, such a statement is not intended to be understood as "I intentionally spoke a falsehood in order to deceive you", and that it is somewhat lighthearted and informal. But there's a lot of space between that and comedy / joking, and I don't get all the way there. Your mileage may vary, of course. Commented Dec 26, 2022 at 18:32

The message you should receive from the diversity of other answers is that usage of "I lied" in a figurative sense to introduce a self-correction is regional. I am very familiar with that, and I sometimes employ it personally, but that clearly is not universal.

Alternatives that are less likely to be subject to regional variation include

  • "[I'm sorry,] I misspoke"
  • "[I'm sorry,] I mean [...]"
  • "correction: [...]"

And it sounds kinda informal. If so, how should I say in more formal context?

I would agree that it is informal. Any of the above alternatives would be more appropriate for a formal context. In most formal circumstances, "I misspoke" is probably the one that I myself would reach for first.

  • Fyi, I'm a native English speaker, and would never, ever, use the phrase "I misspoke", nor "correction: ..." (nor "I lied..."), though I would understand them easily. But I would use "sorry, I mean...". My point is just that these kinds of expressions are more regional/generational or just personal, than you might think. Commented Dec 28, 2022 at 4:45

Because someone requested that I not “answer the question in the comments,” I will make this into an answer:

You should be aware that this expression only works in the first person. You can say “I lied” (in my dialect of American English) but “You lied!” or “She lied!” would be very insulting (unless it’s very clear from context that you’re only joking).


Yes, it's a phrase that is used quite often. It's an informal and satirical way to say "I made a mistake" or, "I was wrong". It's not used too much anymore, but it's still perfectly legitimate. It also sometimes works in second or third person. It sounds weird and insulting if you take it out of context, but if you place it in a proper context(emphasis on proper), it works fine.


Yes, it is often used, by some people, in some places. But it is certainly not a "universal" expression. Nearly every English speaker would understand it, but for most, it would have an air of slang, an idiom of someone trying to sound "cool", that they would never use themselves.

Maybe a better question is whether you should use it. I would say, if you have to ask the question, the answer is "no".

For the example given:

"Take a left at the corner. Oh I lied, you should take a right."

I would use "(sorry/no/uh/erm/actually/[shakes head]/some other optional apologetic thing), I mean take a right". That's also not necessarily "universal", but I think "I mean" is much more so than "I lied".

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