Fact Checked

What does "Dance Around the Truth" Mean?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari

An idiom is a phrase that uses a figurative meaning rather than a literal meaning to convey a point. In other words, one cannot deduce the meaning of an idiomatic phrase by examining the individual words and their meaning. One such expression is "dance around the truth. One does not literally dance or make any physical motion at all. Instead, it means to avoid speaking truthfully outright, or to evade the truth by lying.

The only way to deduce the meaning of an idiomatic expression is to be exposed to it in common conversation. Because the literal meaning of the individual words does not necessarily have any bearing on the actual meaning of the phrase, one cannot simply deduce the meaning by examining the literal definitions of the words; one would reach an inaccurate conclusion using this method. For example, the phrase "dance around the truth" would otherwise imply that one is physically dancing around an object labeled "truth." This is obviously an inaccurate assessment of the phrase, as truth is a concept rather than an object.

Man with hands on his hips
Man with hands on his hips

Therefore, one must examine the imagery and figurative meaning of the phrase in order to understand it. If someone is dancing, it implies creative movement; if they are doing so around the concept of truth, it means they are approaching the truth but are instead being evasive and circumventing the issue in order to avoid the truth. If someone attempts to dance around it, it is often implied that the truth might implicate that person in a negative way.

To dance around the truth also implies that the speaker is being insincere or secretive. One does not do this when he or she is being forthright and straightforward; instead, it's done when there is something to hide, or some other motivation for avoiding the actuality of a given situation.

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Discussion Comments


@Sierra02 – Yea, I get what you’re saying. Public figures should be more careful with the choices they make, especially while their in office.

But what I took away from the article, especially regarding the last paragraph, is how internet advertisers use this tactic to get your attention.

It’s not necessarily false advertising, it’s just dancing around the truth behind the product with a lot of fluff.

For instance the truth about six pack abs eBook suggests you learn the truth before buying the product.

However the name of the product is “truth about six pack abs.” From what I’ve read, nowhere does it ever disclose the truth.


If you want to be really successful at dancing around the truth just follow the news media. They’ll show you how easy our beloved celebrities and politicians do it.

Just watch how John Edwards, Tiger Woods, and now Arnold Schwarzenegger do it? How about Bill Clinton? Oh, he’s the king of denial dancing. Just go back and reread his deposition on the Lewinsky case.

I think so many of them get away with it because the public loves watching a good scandal. These guys need to stop dancing around the truth and stop humiliating their wives.

And besides they’re not some guy next door they’re supposed to be representing the United States of America.

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