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Mendacity ... is NOT an American Value

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Mendacity ... is NOT an American Value
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Why definitions? Words are extremely powerful, and dictionaries are always very precise about what vocabulary they use in their definitions. Mendacity is a word rarely used today in common practice. Before going through the definitions, ask the group what they think mendacity means. Once they are on the right track, then go through the definitions of “mendacity,” “lie,” and “to lie” and discuss the differences.

The group may end up with the conclusion that the concept of a lie is very complex, and just as difficult to grasp as the concept of the truth. For example, in order for something to be a lie, must there be intent to mislead or deceive behind the statement, or must someone else simply believe the statement to be untrue, regardless of intent?

Mendacity is a habit that many people fall into at some point in their life, whether the lies are small or large. Ultimately a government will always be dependent upon its people. Therefore, it is impossible that a government will not wrestle with its own honesty, just as people do. As citizens it is our duty to decide how far mendacity in government can go.

Is it ever acceptable for a government to be dishonest? Are there times when a government must be secretive or blur the truth? How truthful, in general, do the group members believe the government is or has been throughout history? All of these are very large issues, which will be discussed throughout this guide. After the group discussion on the given definitions, have the group create their own definition for mendacity as it applies to the government. (Definitions taken from Merriam-Webster Online.)


  1. n. The quality or state of being mendacious. (Mendacious is an adjective defined as “given to or characterized by deception or falsehood or divergence from absolute truth.”)


  1. n. an assertion of something known or believed by the speaker to be untrue with intent to deceive
  2. n. an untrue or inaccurate statement that may  or may not be believed true by the speaker
  3. n. something that misleads or deceives
  4. n. a charge of lying

To lie

  1. v. to make an untrue statement with intent to deceive 2.  to create a false or misleading impression