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Re: Polite fiction

Posted by Smokey Stover on September 25, 2007

In Reply to: Polite fiction posted by Graham on September 24, 2007

: Does anyone know the origin of the phrase "polite fiction?" I can't find it anywhere on the Internet.

By origin you can hardly mean other than: Who first said or wrote it? The meaning of the phrase is not in any doubt, and comes from the meaning of the two words individually. I haven't a clue as to who first used it, but perhaps someone else can help you.

If you've already searched the Net, you don't need an interpretation of the phrase. Nonetheless, for completeness I'll offer one, not mine but from the Net. I like the discussion in the Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polite_fiction

It is defined there (by someone who goes by the nom de plume of "Troy") as "a social scenario where all participants are aware of a truth, but to avoid conflict or embarrassment, all pretend to believe in some alternate version of events." The example given there is of a man who says he is going out for a walk, and it is well known that he is only walking as far as the nearest bar. His family, though knowing the truth, pretend not to notice the smell on his breath when he returns.