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The title sentence is a dialogue from "Friends" (the sitcom):

Monica has become acquainted with a man named Paul. On a date Paul says to Monica: "since my girlfriend left me I haven't had sex with any girls for two years" (of course he was lying for attracting Monica's pity) and Monica believes him and pities him. And then one night she invites him to her home and ... Then when Monica finds that he is a liar, she tells the story to her friends. Joey (Monica's friend) says laughingly: "Of course, it was a line".

In the "a line", is "a" an article or something else? And what meaning does "it was a line" have?

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  • I think Ross made it clear two lines later in that scene. Monica asked, "Why? Why? Why would anyone do something like that?" Then, Ross said, "I assume we're looking for an answer more sophisticated than, 'to get you into bed.'" See also, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pick-up_line. Oct 4 '14 at 17:46
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    You almost answered this in your question ;) A [pick-up] line is a sentence or sequence of sentences that constitutes "a lie for attracting Monica's pity", among other possible approaches. Oct 4 '14 at 21:02
  • Another example of a [pickup] line: "Are you from Tennessee? Well you're the only 10 I see."
    – iMerchant
    Nov 21 '16 at 8:29
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Check the definition of line sense 23:

23) (informal) persuasive or flattering talk that is insincere

not specifically lying but it could be. Since this usage is a noun, using an article is OK.

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Besides the "fishing" analogy, "It was a line" may refer to a statement delivered by an actor. It's not necessarily true, but it was devised as something the listener wants to hear, or at least will likely respond positively to. "Lines" in a play are meant to entertain--and to get the audience's "favorable" attention.

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I think a native English speaker can give a right answer as the use of line seems very informal here. But I think the word, which also means a fishing line, has been used here figuratively. We cast a fishing line into a river or sea to catch a fish. As the man was trying to trap or bait Monica, her friend said laughingly that it was a line. Of course, "a" is an indefinite article.

So I think we use "a line" in informal talk when someone leads someone on or leads someone up a garden path.

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I firmly believe this is alluding to the statement having been a contraction of 'chat-up line'.

Joey is well-versed with "chatting-up" women and recognises the Paul character's intentions through his actions, likely because Joey has used sympathy as a method of obtaining a woman's trust in the past.

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