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Lying for the Whetstone

Said of a person who is grossly exaggerating or falsifying a statement. One of the Whitsun amusements of our forefathers was the lie-wage or lie-match; he who could tell the greatest lie was rewarded with a whetstone to sharpen his wit. The nature of these contests may be illustrated by the following well-known extravaganza: one of the combatants declared he could see a fly on the top of a church-steeple; the other replied, “Oh yes, I saw him wink his eye.”

When Sir R. Digby declared he had scen the

“philosopher's stone,” Bacon quizzically replied, “perhaps it was a whetstone.”

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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