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No, Except Yes
First you say what it isn't. Then you say what it is. Both of them effectively have the same meaning.

This is when a character rejects a word in preference of a more colorful (or much blunter) one — often with the same practical meaning, given the circumstances, but with some extra connotations.

In most occasions, it will reflect just how easy, one-sided, or unsporting the thing in question is.

The most common form is "We're not lost, we just don't know where we are."

See also Blackmail Is Such an Ugly Word, Metaphorically True, Insistent Terminology.

As an aside: In philosophy, this is a fallacy known as "Distinction Without a Difference".

Contrast Both Sides Have a Point.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Advertising 
  • It's not a cookie, it's a Fig Newton.
  • It's way better than fast food, it's Wendy's.
    • KFC did a similar advertising campaign in the past with the slogan: "There's fast food and then there's KFC."
  • It's not TV, it's HBO.
  • An American Twix ad in 2012 detailed the differences between the left-hand bar and the right-hand bar — using synonyms.
  • It's not just any [X], It's an M&S [X].
  • It's not a PC, it's a Mac. Except when it is a PC, thus contradicting all of their prior advertising and confusing viewers.
  • There was a now-forgotten phone brand who demanded the audience to not call it a phone, ostensibly due to some features it had.

    Anime & Manga 
  • At the end of Red Garden, the villain tells the main characters that he isn't killing them, he's destroying them; since they're already dead, it doesn't count as killing.
  • Azumanga Daioh, Tomo loses to Sakaki in a footrace, and shouts that she's not the loser, but the runner-up.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's
    • Used and lampshaded during the battle between Arf and Zafila.
      Arf: Are you one of their familiars?
      Zafila: In Belka space, we don't call the beasts that serve their masters "familiars"! We call them their fangs and shields! We're Guardian Beasts!
      Arf: It's just the same damn thing!
    • And again in StrikerS Sound Stage X, which is set three years after Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, when Agito visits Lutecia in the latter's Prison Planet, which, to be fair to Agito, really is a pretty nice place.
      Agito: You know, this place is really great.
      Lutecia: You mean you can't see that it's a criminal deportation world?
      Agito: That's not what I mean. It's not a penal colony. It's a world that people are currently adapting and developing.
  • In Maria†Holic, when Mariya first comes to the conclusion that Kanako is a lesbian pervert, Kanako insists that he refer to it as "yuri". He of course then points out that that means the same thing.
  • Similarly, in Lucky Star, after Konata asks her dad, on account of him having loved Kanata and is clingy with Konata herself, if he is a Lolicon, he insists that she's got him all wrong; he not only likes young girls, but likes more mature, well-endowed women, too, so he is "also a lolicon"... Konata is suitably disturbed.
  • After another Team Rocket plot failed on Pokémon, Meowth said to think of it instead as not succeeding.
  • Apparently Futari Ecchi is not hentai, but rather the thinking man's erotic manga. The author insists he's not lying.
  • In Naruto, when Naruto accused Jiraya of being a pervert, Jiraya replied that he's not a pervert but a super-pervert.
  • Munakata of Medaka Box introduces himself by saying that he does not kill people for no reason. He begins to list his reasons for killing, each flimsier than the last, until finally he just says, "And for no reason whatsoever, I'll kill you." He doesn't kill Hitoyoshi, nor does he intend to throughout their fight, even though his Abnormality gives him an overwhelming desire to do so. Quite possibly his real Abnormality is "self-control".

    Comic Books 
  • From the Don Rosa story "The Billionaire of Dismal Downs":
    Fergus: Oh, dear - my son is as crazy as a loon!
    Hortense: Poor people are crazy, papa! Rich people are eccentric!
    Matilda: Scroogey's as eccentric as a loon!
  • Devin Grayson stated that Nightwing's... unfortunate encounter with Tarantula "wasn't rape, just nonconsensual" - a feat roughly on par with saying "not the ocean, just a really big sea."

    Fan Fiction 
  • Princess Corona does this in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Fanfic The Successors when her sister asks her how her flying lessons went:
    Corona: Um…awesome! Yeah, they were great. I, uh…well, I’m still having trouble taking off…and staying airborne…and, uh…landing…. (beat) Okay, so I’m not really doing all that great.
  • In The Prayer Warriors, Jerry has this to say about his girlfriend, Mary (emphasis added).
    Jerry Narrates: "I and her are not dating, if you Satanic scum think that there is something Satanic going on. We are dating, but we are not having Sex until we get married."
  • Nora uses this to deny running a betting ring on when Darrel and Yang would kiss in RWBY Reckoning.
    Nora: No, no, it's not betting. We just put some money into a communal account, and depending on when you two engage in certain activities together, we each earn a little bit depending on when we said it would happen.

    Films — Animated 
  • Robin Hood, the Disney version:
    Robin Hood: Rob? Tch tch. That's a naughty word, we never rob. We just... Sort of borrow a bit from those who can afford it.
    Little John: Borrow? Heh. Boy, are we in debt.
  • From Toy Story: "That wasn't flying. It was falling with style!"
  • Monsters vs. Aliens: "I come in peace, I mean you no harm, and you all will die."
  • On the DVD commentary for G.I. Joe: The Movie, it was mentioned that while Cobra retreats, the Joes withdraw.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Mummy Returns:
    Evie: Alex, I'm serious. If you've lost that key, you're grounded.
    Alex: I didn't lose it, i just can't find it. There's a difference.
    Evie: Well you'd better start finding it, then.
  • The Big Red One:
    Griff: [referring to German soldiers] I can't murder anybody.
    The Sergeant: We don't murder; we kill.
    Griff: [sarcastically] What's the difference?
    The Sergeant: You don't murder animals; you kill 'em.
  • In Rat Race the rich gambler (John Cleese) orchestrating the titular race is "too rich to be crazy. I'm 'eccentric!'"
  • In Spaceballs, the protagonists Lone Starr and Barf need '1 million spacebucks' to get out of a debt with a creature called 'Pizza the Hutt' in a situation clearly meant to mirror Han Solo and Chewbacca's within Star Wars. After being given a mission to rescue a king's daughter and successfully demanding that price, Barf is afraid by how they are risking their lives for money. Lone Starr replies:
    Lone Starr: Barf, we're not just doing this for money. (beat) We're doing it for a shitload of money!
    • Before that, they were hesitant to accept the mission:
    Barf: Look, Your Highness, it's not that we're afraid— far from it! It's just that we've got this thing about death. It's... not us.
  • The Don Rosa quote above mirrors one in Speed:
    Jack: (To Payne, holding Annie hostage) Mister, you're crazy!
    Payne: No, Jack. Poor people are crazy. (Pointing to ransom money) I'm eccentric.
  • From Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl:
    Anamaria: You stole my boat!
    Jack: Borrowed! Borrowed without permission, but with every intention of giving it back.
    Anamaria: But you DIDN'T!!
    • Subverted earlier; Jack is not denying theft, per se, but if Will's going to be on a ship, he needs to use the right terms.
    Will: We're going to steal that ship? (beckoning to the Dauntless)
    Jack: Commandeer. We're going to commandeer (points to the Interceptor) that ship. Nautical term.
  • Preemptively averted by Sgt. Howie in The Wicker Man (1977). "Now you can wrap it up any way you like, but you people are about to commit murder."
  • A profoundly nonsensical example shows up in Troll 2:
    Holly: He's not my beau. He's my boyfriend!
  • The Big Lebowski:
    The Dude: Just stay away from my fucking lady friend.
    Da Fino: Hey, hey, I'm not messing with your special lady.
    The Dude: She's not my "special lady," she's my fucking lady friend.
  • Clue:
    Wadsworth: THAT'S WHAT WE'RE TRYING TO FIND OUT! WE'RE TRYING TO FIND OUT WHO KILLED HIM, AND WHERE AND WITH WHAT!
    Professor Plum: There's no need to shout!
    Wadsworth: I'M NOT SHOUTING! (beat) ALL RIGHT, I AM! I'M SHOUTING! I'M SHOUTING! I'M SHOU—
    • At this point, his shouting has vibrated the candlestick from its perch above the doorway he's standing in and clocked him on the head.
  • Kingdom of Heaven:
    Balian: What is Jerusalem worth?
    Saladin: Nothing. (He walks away then turns around) Everything.
  • Gargamel isn't obsessed with The Smurfs, he just "can't stop thinking about them".
  • From The Shining, as Jack Torrance has lost it and starts menacing his wife.
    Jack: I'm not gonna hurt ya. You didn't let me finish my sentence. I said I'm not gonna hurt ya. I'm just gonna bash your brains in. I'm gonna bash them right the fuck in!
  • In X-Men: First Class, Emma Frost interrupts the CIA Directer and Stryker Sr. when they're discussing the possibility of a war. She prefers not to use that term; it implies that both sides have an equal chance of winning. Though it doesn't imply that at all, of course. See the Anglo-Zanzibar War for example (or many others). Made for a good piece of dialogue though.
  • In National Treasure, Ben tells Riley that when Thomas Edison was asked about his first failed 1000 attempts to make a light bulb, he replied that he didn't fail. He just figured out 1000 ways how not to make a light bulb.
  • In Get Him to the Greek, Aldous offers the sage advice: "Don't think of it as a threesome, think of it as having sex with your girlfriend while someone else also has sex with your girlfriend." This one actually makes some amount of sense, since there's a distinction between these kind of threeways, and the kind that involve lovemaking between all three participants.
  • In The Blues Brothers, Jake finds out from Elwood that the rest of their old band had taken straight jobs. Jake is upset that Elwood lied to him and claimed that the band might still get back together; Elwood replies, "It wasn't a lie... it was bullshit."
  • A classic example from This Is Spinal Tap:
    Marty: The last time Tap toured America, they where, uh, booked into 10,000 seat arenas, and 15,000 seat venues, and it seems that now, on their current tour, they're being booked into 1,200 seat arenas, 1,500 seat arenas, and uh, I was just wondering, does this mean uh... the popularity of the group is waning?
    Ian: Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no...no, no, not at all. I, I, I just think that the... uh... their appeal is becoming more selective.
  • Oz: The Great and Powerful
    Oz: And you can get a big pile of bananas.
    Finnley: Oh, I see, because I'm a monkey, I must love bananas. That, sir, is a vicious stereotype.
    Oz: You don't like bananas?
    Finnley: Of course I love bananas. I'm a monkey.

    Literature 
  • In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Cornelius Fudge says "Sirius Black didn't kill Pettigrew. He destroyed him!" In fairness to Fudge, the prevailing theory/official story at the time was that Black caused an explosion in a crowded street, and Pettigrew was caught at the center such that the biggest/only part of him they could recover and identify was a finger. Blowing someone up is a fairly extreme way to kill someone, especially given the existence of spells that can kill quickly and silently.
  • Sam Vimes, Discworld: "I was a drunk. You have to be richer than I was to be an alcoholic."
    • Also, Granny Weatherwax doesn't get lost. She always knows where she is. It's the rest of the world that has a location problem.
    • Discworld itself doesn't have continuity errors, but it does occasionally have alternate pasts.
      • The above is not just a clever reinterpretation - attempting to understand the canon timeline is an exercise in futility because the timeline in the Discworld was literally shattered into a billion pieces and glued together bit by bit a bunch of monks. Twice (that we've seen in detail so far... it's strongly implied that the History Monks do this all the time).
        These monks are also constantly shunting time from places with too much to places with too little, so how long things take depends on how long they need to take.
    • The Discworld books have also used the "poor people are mad, rich people are eccentric" line a few times. In the Companion it adds that King Ludwig the Tree (who believed there should be a new kind of frog, and wore his underpants on his head) was "a little confused".
    • The Assassin's Guild are masters of this trope:
    1. Small-a assassins are thugs who kill people for money; capital-A Assassins are refined gentlemen of wealth and breeding who enjoy food, wine, and culture, and are occasionally commissioned by other refined gentlemen of wealth and breeding to "remove, for a consideration, any inconvenient razors from the candyfloss of life".
    2. Capital-A Assassins do not "kill" people. They inhume, delete, rub out, or remove people, but "killing" implies a certain unprofessionalism.
    3. Capital-A Assassins are never "employed". They are commissioned, engaged, retained, contracted. note 
  • Ciaphas Cain, HERO OF THE IMPERIUM has an interesting take on this. Usually the reword puts someone in a better light. He, on the other hand, spends hundreds of pages explaining in detail how he is not a hero, that he doesn't charge the enemy, he's really retreating through them. You can bet each one of his stories has hundreds of these rewordings; being the Warhammer 40,000 universe, though, he is a Bad Ass.
  • Animorphs had Ax retort that he did not fall asleep in class as had been insinuated; he just became calm and restful and not completely alert.
    Rachel: Did you snore when you got all calm and restful and not completely alert?
  • The Lasher series:
    Mona: I didn't lose my virginity. I obliterated all traces of its existence.
  • Inverted in the fourth Artemis Fowl book, when Trouble Kelp orders his troops to "retreat". The narration points out the troops' disbelief; whether it's called a retreat or a tactical withdrawal, they're still running away.
    • "It ain't got nothing to do with luck. Fortune delivered you into my hands."
  • Becoming involved in the machinations of Contact in Look to Windward, Ziller suggests some of the Minds may be lying and is corrected by a Contact drone in an Expospeak Gag fashion:
    "Oh, they never lie. They dissemble, evade, prevaricate, confound, confuse, distract, obscure, subtly misrepresent and willfully misunderstand with what appears to be a positively gleeful relish and are generally perfectly capable of contriving to give one an utterly unambiguous impression of their future course of action while in fact intending to do exactly the opposite, but they never lie. Perish the thought."
  • In Honor Harrington, when a Grayson makes a promise to a doomed man, the text states that it was not a promise, but an oath. Possibly justified, since Graysons are all highly religious.
  • The Belgariad has a lot of fun with this, particularly regarding nautical terms. Land-based characters are frequently called out on their use of "tip over" instead of "capsize", "right" instead of "starboard", and "boat" instead of "ship".
  • Sherlock Holmes has this in "The Adventure of Black Peter":
    "You say I murdered Peter Carey; I say I killed Peter Carey, and there's all the difference."
    • In the man's defense Peter Carey had attacked him first. He was essentially saying that he killed the man in self-defense, rather than murdering him in cold blood, which of course is a very significant difference in a legal context.
  • Thus Was Adonis Murdered by Sarah Caudwell has a nice example:
    "It's not exactly that she's unobservant. It's just that she doesn't always notice what's happening."
  • "All animals are equal…but some animals are more equal than others." Which is of course an inversion, as they are not implying that all animals are equal...
  • Acheron Hades, the main villain of the first Thursday Next novel, isn't mad. Despite the fact that does terrible things for the sake of doing them. No, he's differently moraled. And don't you forget it.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel:
    • In an earlier episode, Cordelia tries to move in with Angel when she gets sick of her own roach-infested apartment, saying "It's not that you're my last resort; it's just that I had nowhere else to go."
  • Smallville
    Chloe Sullivan: This is not a date. This is a fact-finding mission to see if he deserves a date.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Eleventh Doctor seems incredibly fond of this; Several of his episodes involve examples of him doing this.
    • From "The Beast Below": "Except it's not a torture chamber, is it? Well, except it is. Except it isn't."
    • He also does one with himself in "Night Terrors": "Pantophobia. Not fear of pants, though, if that's what you're wondering. It's the fear of everything. Including pants, I suppose, in that case."
    • He says something very similar about the Silence in "The Impossible Astronaut"/"Day of the Moon".
      The Doctor: It's not an invasion, it's an occupation.
    • Later, when the Doctor and the TARDIS get to speak.
      The TARDIS: Then you stole me. And I stole you.
      The Doctor: I borrowed you.
      The TARDIS: Borrowing implies the eventual intention to return the thing which was taken. What makes you think I would ever give you back?
    • Ahem. "THIS IS NOT WAR!! THIS IS PEST CONTROL!!!"
  • Inverted (sort of) in Firefly:
    Inara: Well, since I can't seem to find work as a Companion, I might as well become a petty thief like you!
    [An uncomfortable silence descends for a moment.]
    Mal: Petty?
    Inara: I didn't mean petty.
    Mal: What did you mean?
    Inara: ...Suo-shee?
    Mal: That's Chinese for "petty".
    • Another Firefly example, from "Objects In Space":
      River: She understands. She doesn't comprehend.
      Mal: Glad we have that cleared up.
      • This is something of a subversion, however. There is a distinction between understanding and comprehending, but not one Mal is likely to understand or comprehend.
      • The distinction is that understand is to grasp the meaning of the word or phrase, whereas comprehend is to have a clear picture of the reasoning by which the words that are understood were reached. In the above phrase, River knows what is going on, but doesn't understand why. Admittedly, this is a pretty pedantic difference that usually doesn't matter. In fact the word "comprehend" appears in the definition of "understand" on dictionary.com, and the word "understand" appears in that same resource's definition of "comprehend." Like most synonyms, the words mean essentially the same thing, just with different implications.
    • Jubal Early gives us the most egregious example:
      Simon: So you're a bounty hunter.
      Jubal: No, that ain't it at all.
      Simon: Then what are you?
      Jubal: I'm a bounty hunter.
      • Possibly explained by another scene where Jubal mishears "Are you Alliance?" as "Are you a lion?" implying that he may be hard of hearing (which seems like a bad trait for a bounty hunter to have, but whatever). So he may have misheard "bounty hunter" as...I don't know, "booty counter" maybe.
      • Or he realized that the two of them meant different things when they said 'bounty hunter'.
      Simon: So you're a horrible person that is going to take back my sister to the people that tortured her.
      Jubal: No, that ain't it at all.
      Simon: Then what are you?
      Jubal: I'm a paid profesional that is taking back a wanted fugitive to the proper authorities.
  • Gossip Girl: "Actually, it's hash. I find it gives a softer high."
  • Jim Trott from The Vicar of Dibley: "No, no, no, no,no, ... Yes"
    • And also his (rarely seen) wife: "Yes, yes, yes, yes, ... No"
  • The Dutch children's show Bassie & Adriaan gives us a repeated example:
    Bassie (usually while drifting to sleep): I'll go look at that on the inside of my eyes.
    • Usually this implied "I'm going to dream about that."
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Inverted in an episode that takes place in a dream (well, several dreams):
    Dream-Giles: You hold them, you touch them, uh, use them, um...
    Dream-Harmony: Props?
    Dream-Giles: No.
    Dream-Riley: Props?
    Dream-Giles: Yes!
    • Buffy also prefers to think of it as "slaying" vampires rather than "killing" them.note 
    • In Season 8, Buffy works out that she was woken by a True Love's Kiss from Satsu, a fellow slayer. She tells her that they can't be with each other. Then Buffy sleeps with her. Then reverting to the way she was with Spike, Buffy again tries to break off the romance, then sleeps with Satsu again.
    • From Season 9:
    Sophie: "We certainly don't associate with anyone who'd do something like that. Wait. Yes we do, don't we?"
  • From Burn Notice:
    Sam Axe: Yeah, actually, I need you to keep your head down for a while 'cause this is going to get worse before it gets better.
    Madeline: Sam... you're asking me to hide?
    Sam: Oh, no, no, no, of course not. I just need you to be some place where no one can see you.
    • Quoth Westen, upon being asked what he was thinking threatening an FBI agent for information: "I didn't threaten him. I asked him questions... with a gun in my hand." (If you saw the scene... he was totally threatening him.)
  • From Jon Stewart on The Daily Show: "[The Bush] Administration does not torture logic, no! This administration merely flew logic in an unmarked plane to Bulgaria. Whatever happened to logic there, we have no idea."
    • John Oliver once insisted that a box marked "porn" in fact contained erotica, which was his legacy and had to go to a library.
  • Rigel from Farscape insisted that he never retreats, but "strategically maneuvers".
    • When once accused of "snurching"(Farscape-ese for stealing) he responds "I don't snurch, I... procure."
  • This bit from Hello Cheeky, just after Tim has told a dirty joke to the camera.
    Barry: Please! There's no room for vulgarity on this programme!
    John: Why?
    Barry: There's too much filth and nonsense!
  • Averted in Heroes.
    Sylar: I'm not a Serial Killer.
    Luke: You kill people, you take souvenirs...
    Sylar: Okay, technically, I'm a serial killer.
  • Hey Dude:
    Buddy: Mom, Dad, I'm gonna lasso you two if you don't stop yelling!
    Mr. Ernst: We're not yelling, Buddy, we're talking loudly.
    Buddy: That's what you always say.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus has this dialogue snippet between two pepperpots:
    Mrs. Thing: Oh, have you been shopping?
    Mrs. Entity: No, I've been shopping.
    • And from the"Nudge Nudge" sketch:
    Norman: Look, are you insinuating something?
    Him: Oh, no, no, no... yes.
  • Monty Python's Eric Idle then went on to do a sketch on Saturday Night Live in which he begins a talk show on which he'll be interviewing Richard Nixon by assuring the audience that his show is, of course, "completely uncensored, except for the little bits we'll cut out."
  • From the Red Dwarf episode "Emohawk: Polymorph II":
    Kryten: It's charging us with looting Space Corps derelicts.
    Lister: But we don't loot Space Corps derelicts. We just hack our way in and swipe what we need!
    Rimmer: ...Lister, if this goes to trial, I demand separate lawyers.
    • Also from the episode "Holoship":
    Rimmer: Oh, and sir — you're wrong. We won't be apart, we just... won't be together. (beat) I cannot believe I just said that.
    • Itself a callback to some crappy Casablanca knockoff they were watching at the start of the episode. (Rimmer considered it Glurge.)
    Marnie: We'll always be together! It's just... that we'll be apart.
  • A skit on Royal Canadian Air Farce during the Bre-X scandal: "Now, Pamela [Wallin, a somewhat famous Canadian newsanchor], we don't lie—we misappropriate the truth."
  • This snippet from Skins, when Naomi goes to visit Effy in her psychiatric institution.
    Effy: You think you're going mad, so you came to see me to see what a crazy person looks like.
    —>Naomi: No. NO! No... yes.
  • The Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Court Martial" has this exchange when Spock tries to defend Kirk on the witness stand.
    Shaw: Are you disputing with the computer?
    Spock: I am not disputing with the computer; I am merely stating that it is wrong.
  • Sisko on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: "I wasn't yelling. I was expressing my opinion loudly." It seems to run in the family, as his father once claimed "I wasn't sleeping, I was checking my eyelids for holes."
    • The Female Changeling, when declaring the need to pull back their forces, is accused of retreating by her Breen allies. She and Weyoun immediately try to spin it as a momentary withdrawal so they can build up their forces and attack again.
  • The West Wing:
    President Bartlet: You told the press I have a secret plan to fight inflation?
    Josh: No, I did not. Let me be absolutely clear, I did not do that. Except, yes, I did that.
  • In The X-Files, Mulder once claimed "I would never lie. I willfully participated in a campaign of misinformation."
  • "It's one of those irregularly declining words. I have an independent mind, you are an eccentric, he's round the twist." Bernard Woolley, Yes, Minister. Also, "I hold confidential briefings, you leak, he's been charged under section 2A of the Official Secrets Act."
  • JAG: "Heroes" in the second season has Harm firing a loaded submachine gun into the courtroom ceiling. Mac, for her part, goes diving under the table when this happens. When she later claims that Marines never hide, Harm asks her what she was doing down there.
    Mac: Taking cover.
  • Early on the second season of Game of Thrones:
    Janos Slynt: "I won't have my honour questioned by an imp!"
    Tyrion Lannister: "I'm not questioning your honor Lord Janos. I'm denying its existence."
  • From the M*A*S*H episode "To Market, To Market," as Henry is polishing his new desk:
    Henry: Radar, you know what kind of wood this desk is made with?
    Radar: Oak, sir.
    Henry: Nope. It's oak.
    • An atypical example, because each time he does it (which he does to everyone he shows the desk off to) he's not actually listening to them. He's just glorying in having something cooler than MacArthur has.
  • Arrow:
    Oliver: Felicity, are you hacking into the Merlyn Global mainframe?
    Felicity: Hacking is such an ugly word. No, I'm... (pauses, can't come up with a better word) Yeah, totally hacking into the Merlyn Global mainframe.
  • Community: "She's not dead. Her brain, heart, lungs, and kidneys stopped working".

    Music 
  • "Yes, we Have no Bananas"
  • Verse three of The Beatles' Strawberry Fields Forever:
    Always, no, sometimes think it's me
    But you know I know that it's a dream
    I think a "no" will be a "yes" but it's all wrong
    That is I think I disagree.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • The WWE uses the phrase "released to pursue future endeavors" as a much politer euphemism for "We fired his ass".
    • There is also the phrase: "WWE has come to terms with the release of [insert wrestlers name], we wish him/her the best in his/her future endeavors." Not surprisingly, it has reached meme status.
    • In his series Wrestle! Wrestle!, Spoony uses "future endeavors" to mean "The company is screwing you up the ass, quit now while you still have your dignity".
  • While normally just a case of Insistent Terminology, whenever a ring announcer commentator or wrestler superstar verbally corrects their colleague about how to refer to Professional Wrestling Sports Entertainment, it starts slipping into this territory. Especially if it's blatant enough to get the fans The Universe to start booing about it.

    Stand-up Comedy 
  • A joke from before The Great Politics Mess-Up where an American and a Russian are racing with the American winning. When the Russian newspapers print the story, they read that the American was second-to-last and the Russian was in second place.

    Theater 
  • In the musical Finians Rainbow, there's the song "When the Idle Poor Become the Idle Rich", which covers this trope. A typical example:
    When a rich man loses on a horse
    Oh, isn't he a sport?
    When a poor man loses on a horse—
    He's a gambler, he's a spender
    He's a low life, he's a reason for divorce!

    Video Games 
  • Call of Duty 2 has a mission called Retreat? We're Advancing in Another Direction.
    • World of Warcraft joins in on the fun. Victory over a certain encounter relies upon you running from a boss and escaping his fortress before he one-shot kills your entire party. The linked achievement for doing this in a certain time is "We're Not Retreating; We're Advancing In A Different Direction!"
  • In the rerelease of Final Fantasy Tactics, Balthier clarifies for some bounty hunters: "I'm no thief. I'm a Sky Pirate."
    • Because of Japanese linguistic conventions, the word "pirate" refers to one who is not in a Navy and not a fisherman - so it can also refer to people who claim salvage and seafaring (or skyfaring in this case) Treasure Hunters. Although he may be a thief as well, in Japanese media you can't assume Thief = Pirate.
      • He has a series of abilities called Plunder, which are just more effective variants of the Thief's Steal abilities. It is made pretty clear what his job entails.
    • Similarly, in Final Fantasy VI, Locke insists, "I'm not a thief, I'm a treasure hunter!" Regardless of the fact that some of the treasures he hunts are currently owned by someone else.
  • Yuan Shao in Dynasty Warriors 5: "This is not a retreat! Rather, a move for my future!"
  • Used in the PC adventure game The Dagger of Amon Ra:
    "Kill is such an ugly word. Actually, we're going to sacrifice you to Amon Ra!"
  • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword: First the developers said that the girl in the early promotional art wasn't the Master Sword — she was the Goddess Sword. ...Which becomes the Master Sword later.
  • In the first case of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, prosecutor Winston Payne asks defendant Larry Butz if his ex-girlfriend, Cindy Stone (the murder victim in the case), broke up with him:
    Butz: I wasn't dumped! She just wasn't taking my phone calls...or seeing me...ever. What's it to you, anyway?!
    Payne: Mr. Butz, what you describe is generally what we mean by "dumped".
  • In the Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen game, this is used by Grindor to question Starscream's courage under fire:
    Grindor: I'm sorry, Starscream, I forgot: you don't retreat, you advance backwards!
  • From Fallout: New Vegas:
    Courier: In the meantime, you'd rule Vegas as some kind of dictator?
    Mr. House: I prefer the term "autocrat".
    • Also, from the Old World Blues DLC:
      Dr. Klein: "I'm not going to harm it. I'm going to dissect it until it's dead!"
  • When you're Ubercharged as Soldier in Team Fortress 2:
    Soldier: We have you surrounded, at least from this side!
  • Borderlands 2: "I'm not saying you owe me, but I am implying it."
  • Assassin's Creed III: Connor has just gone through an epic naval battle at Chesapeake Bay, all to get some French ships to aid him in his assault on Ft. George in New York. When he begins to explain his request to the Admiral, the following exchange occurs:
    Admiral de Grasse: "Wait, wait. I thought you might need some pirates killed, or goods transported. And instead, you ask us to....what, shell New York?"
    Connor: "No. Of course not."
    de Grasse: "Ah...."
    Connor: "Only part of it."
    de Grasse: "....explain yourself."
  • In Persona 3, near after The Reveal regarding Ikutsuki's manipulations to Eiichiro Takeba's video:
    Ikutsuki: Ah yes, he did record that himself. Of course, I had to make some modifications.
    Yukari: You doctored it?
    Ikusuki: I corrected it.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • "Technically you could call me a Serial Killer. I don't know if that's the correct noun. Personally, I just think I'm a bloke who had a few people put down. I don't have any voices in my head, and I haven't got any mother-love fantasies. Well, not really." ~ Terrence, KateModern: The Last Work
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series:
    Joey: Shut up, Tristan! You just want to get into my sister's pants!
    Tristan: No, I don't. I just want to have sex with her! (beat) Oh, that's what you meant!
  • Red vs. Blue has Sarge's "We're not retreating; We're advancing, towards future victory!"
    • Also: "It's not pink, it's lightish red!
      • Which gets the appropriate response: "They have a word for that. PINK!"
    • "I wouldn't really use the word 'replace,' but there's no word for 'Take over for you and make everything better almost immediately,' so we just say replace."
  • From the Something Awful review of the movie The House That Screamed: "I'm not saying I disliked the film, I'm just saying that I'd rather rip all of my teeth out with rusty pliers, make them into a comb, and use the comb made of my own teeth to scrape all of my skin off than watch it again."
  • This line from a post on "Children Who Need To Check Their Privilege":
    "Ignorant shithead, I never said “KILL ALL WHITE BABIES” you’re putting words in my mouth asshole. We just need to kill some of them, especially the racist ones."
  • In Third Rate Gamer's Daze Before Christmas review:
    "Ooh, I know what you're thinking: "How dare you make fun of Santa Claus!?" But I'm not! This game is awesome, but it's a piece of shit."
    "I know what you're thinking — that I'm going to sit here and bash Super Mario 2. But before you start sending your hate mail, just hear me out. Now, I don't hate Mario 2, but when compared to the other Mario games, this one just has "ass" written all over it!"

    Western Animation 
  • In the Adventure Time episode "Up a Tree", Finn's conversation with the squirrel guarding his cell:
    Finn: So does that mean I'm a prisoner forever?
    Squirrel: Well yes. And no. Are you a prisoner? Yes. Will you ever be free? No.
  • In the little-known DreamWorks Animation miniseries Invasion America when the evil Dragit attempts to capture the Cale Oosha so he can invade/conquer Earth, this exchange takes place:
    Cale: TREASON!
    Dragit: Revolution.
  • Rugrats in an episode just after Chas and Kira's wedding (and after the word "no" was established as Chuckie's first word), Chuckie is offered some juice and accepts, despite replying with "no". The adults understand him. This is Truth in Television, as "no" is easier to pronounce and is learned earlier.
  • Futurama
    • From the episode "The Cryonic Woman":
      Fry: Let's do this now and never regret it.
      * timeskip*
      Fry: I don't regret this, but I both rue and lament it.
    • From "Anthology of Interest I"
    • From "The Sting"
      Leela: Are you saying I'm going crazy?
      Professor Farnsworth: No, no, no one's saying that... but I'm certainly thinking it loudly.
  • The Simpsons
    • "Tennis the Menace":
      Lisa: You're replacing me?
      Homer: Oh Lisa, dumping is such a harsh word. Let's just say I'm replacing you.
    • From "Diatribe of a Mad Housewife":
      Homer: I didn't lie! I was writing fiction with my mouth!
    • And from "Team Homer":
      Mr. Burns: Look at them, Smithers, enjoying their embezzlement.
      Smithers: I have a much uglier word for it, sir: misappropriation.
    • In "Homer Defined" when the power plant is having a meltdown, Kent Brockman asks Mr. Burns about it in a news report. Mr. Burns replies saying "meltdown is one of those buzzwords" and calls the situation an "unexpected fission surplus."
    • "Homer the Heretic"
      Marge: Are you actually giving up your faith?
      Homer: No! No-no-no-no-no no! Well, yes.
  • In one Aladdin: The Series episode, Iago says "This isn't stealing! It's surplus inventory reduction!"
  • South Park
    • "They're not pirate ghosts; they're ghost pirates!". The distinction, apparently, is that a ghost pirate is the ghost of a pirate, whereas a pirate ghost is a ghost that decided to become a pirate.
    • "I don't make the rules for crack baby basketball. I just think them up and then write them down".
    • "I'm not drinking and driving, I'm driving while I'm drinking. Right, boys?"
  • In an episode of the Super Mario World cartoon, Oogtar puts it plain and simple. "Oogtar not lost! Oogtar just...not know where he is."
    • Also this exchange:
      Oogtar: Oogtar not run. Oogtar jogging for health!
      Yoshi: Jogging good for health?
      Oogtar: Is when hungry, Oogtar-eating caterpillar behind you!
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    Sokka: You guys are pirates!
    Pirate: We prefer to think of ourselves as "high-risk traders."
  • Drakken of Kim Possible once decided to start outsourcing instead of stealing... yeah.
  • In Dan Vs. "The Bank," Dan corrects Chris that they won't go to jail for robbing the bank. Prison, probably, but not jail.note 
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy
    • One episode gives us this little exchange:
      Billy: GRIM! Guess what I got on our camping trip! Guess guess guess guess guess!!
      Grim: I don't know, Billy! … A rash?
      Billy: No! … well, yes.
    • There's also this:
      Mandy: Objection! He's leading the witness!
      Billy: I'm not leading him, I'm just making him say everything I want him to!
  • Danger Mouse uses this in "Gremlin Alert" when he corners the anti-logic Gremlin with a "how can you agree with me when gremlins always disagree?" argument.
  • Uncle Grandpa, "Driver's Test":
    Kid of the week: You mean on top of buildings and in outer space?
    Uncle Grandpa: No, no, no, no, no, no, no. Yes.
  • Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, "Berry Scary": "We can still do it together, just without you."
  • Darwin does this in The Amazing World of Gumball episode "The Name":
    Gumball: I can't do it! I'm weak!
    Darwin: You're not weak! You just lack upper body strength, lower body strength, and mental strength!
    • Later in the same episode:
    Gumball/Zach: Zach doesn't listen... he hears.
    Darwin: They're the same thing.
    Gumball: What's that? I can't listen you right now.
    ** And in "The Boss":
    Gumball: You have a better idea?
    Darwin: No, I have a much better idea.

    Real Life 
  • Maj. Gen. Oliver P. Smith, the Commanding General, 1st Marine Division, at the Chosin Reservoir, said, "Retreat, hell! We're not retreating, we're just advancing in a different direction." To a civilian, retreat means "move away from a battle or position" but the military definition is specifically "withdrawal of troops to a more favorable position to escape the enemy's superior forces or after a defeat. Since they were moving to attack the enemy as part of their break-out, their actions could be described as an advance rather than a retreat. What it all comes down to, of course, is that Marines would much rather point out that they were attacking the enemy instead of getting hung up on the fact that they were also getting themselves out of a very untenable situation. "Retreat" is a word that brings with it connotations of running away from the fight, which they were certainly not doing.
  • People from Brussels have a habit of saying "non peut-etre" ("maybe no") when they actually mean "yes". Astérix once parodied this habit mercilessly, to the utter confusion of the Roman legionaries.
  • Jasper Carrott did a stand-up routine about the Balinese allegedly hating to answer "No" to any question, leading to a conversation like:
    Carrott: Do you have any tartare sauce?
    Balinese waiter: Oh yes! (does nothing)
    Carrott: Er...well, can I have some then?
    Balinese waiter: Oh yes! (smiles, does nothing)
    Carrott: (looks at watch) Er...will it be long?
    Balinese waiter: (nodding pointedly) Oh, yes!
    • Their neighbours, the Javanese, also have this habit. This concept is called "Inggih, boten kepanggih" which is "Yes" as in "Yes, I understand perfectly what you said, but I never said I'm agreeing with you/confirming that".
  • Another army story has Canadian troops during World War II moving through a village, when a German Tank rounded the corner. Beating a hasty retreat, they told their CO, who angrily yelled "You are Canadians! You do not retreat!" The troops feared he was going to order them on a suicide charge, until he followed up with "You are moving to a more strategic location!"
  • According to William Lutz, author of The New Doublespeak, the first Doublespeak Award went, in 1974, to US Air Force Colonel David Opfer in Phnom Penh, Cambodia for saying to American reporters, "You always write it's bombing, bombing, bombing. It's not bombing, it's air support."note 
    • The source of the colonel's complaint is presumably that American journalists deliberately used only the term "bombing", probably in order to bring to mind the deliberate bombing of civilian targets that was common in World War II (the only war most of the American public had had any direct contact with)—rather than giving the details of what "air support", something very different, entails (it's generally much more precise and smaller-scale, and mostly only used against enemy forces that are actually a threat).
  • Publicly stated by a foreign official in 1998: "No viewpoints have been banned, except for those that have been banned by the law."
  • David Dinkins, after it was discovered that he hadn't paid income tax some years earlier, replied: “I haven't committed a crime. What I did was fail to comply with the law.”
    • He didn't commit a crime by taking an action the law prohibits. He failed to comply with the the law by failing to take an action the law requires. The distinction is understandably lost on ordinary citizens who can't get away with either. The difference between an offence and a failure to comply can be the difference between a jail sentence and a request from a legal authority to kindly comply with the law.
    • There was a Swedish quote: "Jag har inte begått något brott, jag bara misslyckades med att följa lagen." Translation: "I haven't committed a crime, I simply failed in following the law."
  • After losing to the Americans in a sporting event (not the Olympics) the Soviet media (supposedly) claimed that they had come in second, while the US came in second to last. Which is all totally true...since the event only had two nations competing: The U.S. and the Soviets.
  • Such a common way of speaking there was a book about racism named (in Finnish) after the phrase: "I'm not racist, but..." (Alternative: "I'm not racist, I just...") There are legitimate ways of continuing at least the latter sentence, of course, but the usual use falls under this trope.
  • There is a "game" called Conjugation, which works like the "irregularly declining" words noted in the Yes, Minister example above. I'm liberal, you're radical, he's a bomb-throwing anarchist; I'm cautious, you're conservative, he's puritanical.
  • Clarke's Third Law can be paraphrased as "the Hand Wave I'm using isn't magic, it's just science we don't understand yet!" You'd be surprised how often this excuse is given for stories which violate well-understood laws of physics.
  • A country club spokesman on why a specific person was refused admission thereto:
    We didn't turn him down. We didn't admit him.
  • Fundies Say the Darndest Things has several examples.
  • Books on marine mammals will often claim that "the orca isn't a whale, it's a dolphin"… despite the fact that dolphins are whales themselves (at least if the beluga & sperm whale are considered whales). Orcas are more closely related to dolphins than to the other toothed whales, and the whales as a whole divide into two main groups, the toothed whales and the baleen whales. The separation of dolphins from other cetaceans (whales) is a relic of classification methods that allowed groupings of the form "All of THESE except for THOSE", which the most modern classification method (cladistics) does not allow.
    • Depends heavily on the language one uses. For example in French, it's incorrect to call any cetacean with teeth a "baleine" (whale). Baleine equals members of the taxon Balaenidae and can be extended to all Mysticeti (baleen whales) but no further. It helps that neither orcas nor sperm whales (cachalot) are ever called baleine in vernacular language in French.
  • Daniel Boone once said of himself, "I can't say as ever I was lost, but I was bewildered once for three days."
  • It's not a recession, it's an economic deceleration. Which can make sense, assuming the speaker means the economy is still growing, albeit more slowly, instead of shrinking.
    • Similarly, but in the opposite direction, the common complaint that some government is not cutting spending, but only slowing the rate at which spending increases.
  • It's not a threat; it's a promise.
  • Croatian politician Andrija Hebrang, after being called a liar: "I do not lie, nor do I tell lies, I merely speak untruths, which is much more polite."
  • This famous dialogue from The French Revolution just after Louis XVI was informed of the Bastille's fall:
    Louis XVI: Is it a revolt?
    Aide: No, sire. It is a revolution.


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alternative title(s): This Is Pest Control; Yes Except No; Distinction Without A Difference
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