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—with the same practical meaning, given the circumstances, maybe with some extra connotations. In most occasions, it will reflect just how easy, one-sided, or unsporting the thing in question is.
A common form is "We're not lost, we just don't know where we are."
Sometimes the word being substituted is even worse than the previous while still having technically the same meaning — "I'm not going to hurt you. I'm just gonna kill you!" being a prime example of this.
This is a Sub-Trope to Insistent Terminology (any time a character corrects another's terminology) and Super Trope to "Blackmail" Is Such an Ugly Word and Less Embarrassing Term (character uses a euphemism for terms with negative connotations).
- By "No", I Mean "Yes": character agrees, then disagrees; or the reverse
- Metaphorically True: character hides their lies in a change of perspective
- Overwhelming Exception: where conditionals applied are so numerous or so major that the usually-large difference might not be distinctive
- Dissimile: where two things are said to be similar, then a list of how they aren't similar is added.
Contrast Both Sides Have a Point.
If there is a distinction that would matter to the specific people involved, but not to most people, it's You Keep Using That Word (for instance, the distinction between "murdered" and "killed" is hugely important within the legal system, but in common, casual usage, it's not uncommon for the two words to be used interchangeably).
May also relate to Cannot Tell a Lie, Will Not Tell a Lie, or Weasel Words, when the wording is very deliberately selected to convey a false impression without technically being a lie in the traditional sense.
- Fast food companies like this one, much to the delight of snarkers everywhere:
- "It's way better than fast food, it's Wendy's."
- "There's fast food and then there's KFC."
- Dairy Queen is "fan food, not fast food."
- It's not a cookie, it's a Fig Newton.
- It's not TV, it's HBO.
- It's not a car... it's a Volkswagen.
- An American Twix ad in 2012 detailed the differences between the left-hand bar and the right-hand bar by using synonyms.
- There's a new one where three pairs of people claim the differences between left and right Twix are just as glaring as the differences between themselves. They are an undertaker and a mortician, a janitor and a custodian, and a spirit and a ghost.
- 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.
- Scheaffer, like most companies that make fountain pens, also makes fountain pen ink, under the brand name "Skrip". For a long time (though not anymore), their advertising tag line was that Skrip wasn't ink; it was a new thing, better than ink. The bottle labels called it a "writing fluid".
- 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.
- Osaka asks Kaorin if she's gay. Kaorin angrily corrects her ("the correct term is lesbian!"), then tells her she's not a lesbian (she has a massive crush on Huge Schoolgirl Sakaki).
- Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's:
- Used and lampshaded during the battle between Arf and Zafira.
Arf: Are you one of their familiars?
Zafira: 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.
- Used and lampshaded during the battle between Arf and Zafira.
- In MariaHolic, 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.
- In Lucky Star, after Konata asks her dad, on account of him having loved Kanata and being clingy with Konata herself, if he is a paedophile, 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.
- when Naruto accuses Jiraya of being a pervert, Jiraya replies that he's not a pervert but a super-pervert.
- A much more serious example happens later, when Obito tells Kakashi that Rin's death is not his reason for pulling the entire world into a war. He then goes on to state that Rin's death opened his eyes to the truth that the world is worthless, and so therefore needs to change.
- 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".
- Axis Powers Hetalia:
Germany: Your enemy demands that you surrender! How do you respond?
Japan: Like a true Japanese, I shall say "I'll think about it", or "Perhaps next time", or "I'd like to, but...". All of these answers mean no!note
- Dragon Ball Super: During the Future Trunks Saga, Future Zamasu states that he and Goku Black are not friends, just kindred spirits working together on the same dream. Goku even lampshades that that's basically the same thing.
- Mobile Suit Gundam SEED: Lacus steals the Freedom Gundam from Z.A.F.T. and gives it to Kira. When questioned about this, she says that she did not "provide assistance to an enemy spy" but rather "gave Kira a new and better sword". Kira really isn't a spy but he was registered as an Earth Alliance soldier, so the distinction is moot.
- Akagami no Shirayukihime: Mitsuhide takes issue with something Prince Zen says the palace workers call him;
Prince Zen: It's for that very reason [...] that people say you're a blunt simple idiot!
Mitsuhide: No one's called me that before! What people say is that I'm stupid!
Prince Zen: It's the SAME DAMN THING!
- 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.
- Jon Stewart, when paying tribute to Bruce Springsteen during the 2009 Kennedy Center Honors:
"When you listen to the music of Bruce Springsteen, you are no longer a loser. You are a character in an epic poem...about losers."
- 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!
- An old Russian Reversal joke: Under capitalism, man exploits his fellow man. Under communism, the reverse is true.
- From the Don Rosa story "The Billionaire of Dismal Downs":
- 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."
- Death's Head isn't a Bounty Hunter, he's a freelance peacekeeping agent, yes?
- In The Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye, Whirl uses this, although he's not arguing for something:
Whirl: So, this is what running away feels like, huh? I'm not keen. It's like... it's like fighting, but in the wrong direction.
- Chick Tracts: In "Four Angels, Henry, the youngest of the four brothers, and the only one Chick believes remained a Bible-believing Christian, refuses to eat with his elder brother Charlie because Charlie is a fornicator. When Henry shows up after dinner, he condemns Charlie's lifestyle, calling him "a friend of the world and an enemy of God." When their brother Bobby asks Henry if he's saying Charlie's going to Hell, Henry says "I didn't say it. The Word of God does."
- In Spider-Man, whenever John Jonah Jameson (Jr.) is accused of Malicious Slander against the titular hero, he usually retorts with "It is NOT! Slander is spoken. In print, it's libel."
- 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 Origins, a Mass Effect/Star Wars/Borderlands/Halo Massive Multiplayer Crossover, Admiral Grayson pulls a very long-winded version of this trope. The Republic Intelligence Service doesn't use the Current/Force, except, here's a rather lengthy anecdote about problems they had that would only occur if they were dabbling in that which he just said they weren't doing.
- 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.
- Families and Familiars: Second Year:
It had been almost two months since his exceedingly ignominious... no, he refused to call it a defeat. He, Lord Voldemort, had not, and never would be, truly defeated. It had merely been a setback.
- In No Obvious Truths Lucius tries Pepsi for the first time and decides he likes it.
Tom: Oh, good, now Lucius will have a new addiction!
Lucius: I do not have addictions! I merely indulge in what pleases me.
- The Best Revenge:
Harry: I did not faint! I only-blacked out-just for a little bit.
- Advice and Trust: Asuka tells Misato over the phone that she'll do her best to fight Shinji's Don Juan-like charms and keep him from ravishing her. When Shinji questions her on it, she claims that she considers him more of a Casanova type and that she'd be ravishing him.
- The Savior and the Scourge:
Giles: I'll have you know that I chose to come here...to escape all the bloody teenage female hormonal insanity! By all that is holy, that many twittering, fighting, whining, overpowered females should never be confined in a single place. It's enough to drive a Shorchak demon to vegetarianism!
Spike: So you ran away.
Giles: I merely made a strategic retreat.
- In Harry Potter and the Golden Ring Harry buys his wife a renovated 747.
Karen: But you know what this makes us, don't you? A pair of self-indulgent wieners with too much bloody money.
Harry: No, ma'am. We're connoisseurs.
- Where Paths Cross:
Harry: Shouldn't we be heading back? You always tell me to be indoors before it gets dark.
Beth: We are going home, we're just -
Beth: - Following the scenic route.
- The Legacy Preservation Act:
Tracey: I know that I don't know Harry half as well as you, which is almost not at all, but I do know that he isn't going to like being manipulated.
Daphne: I don't intend to manipulate Harry. I am going to discuss things with him and guide him to the decisions and conclusions I want him to reach.
- Wear Me Like a Locket Around Your Throat:
Harry conceded the point, and crossed his arms. He wasn't 'sulking', he was conducting a strategic silence.
- Harry Potter - Three to Backstep:
Daphne: This is the ladies' parlour. Normally, no males allowed. However, we've found it better to at least let the menfolk see the room at least once, when it's not otherwise in use. It tends to stop you men being nosey when it is.
Harry: I... am not nosey; I am merely... inquisitive.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series: In "She Blinded Me with Card Games":
- To Catch A Thief:
Snape: Mr. Potter, you will refrain from stealing. You will obey all of Hogwarts' rules. If you get caught breaking them, you will earn a detention with me. If you lose points it's two detentions. I don't care who you are, what you have experienced, you are here in Hogwarts and you will be a model student, or be expelled.
Harry: Not happening. First, if I do get caught, it will be a frame job. Second, I don't steal, I liberate useful items for future endeavors.
- Harry Potter and the Grinning Goblins:
Harry: I'm not short, just... not big.
- In A Rainbow in the Dark Lily casts a hex that makes Dumbledore's nose grow when he lies.
Snape: However long it lasts he will deserve every moment of it. Maybe it will make him realize how often he actually does lie.
Lily: He would claim he doesn't lie; he merely dissembles.
- 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:
"Don't think of it as a prison. Think of it as a hotel you can never leave, 'cause it's locked from the outside."
- On the DVD commentary for G.I. Joe: The Movie, it was mentioned that while Cobra retreats, the Joes withdraw.
- In Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, Kowalski's latest invention powering the Penguin-Mobile... Skipper corrects Gloria in a way that makes you wonder how he made it.
Gloria: That's a nuclear reactor?!
Skipper: [calmly] NUKE-u-lar.
- Sulley in Monsters University:
Sulley: You're wasting time. We need a new team.
Mike: We can't just "get a new team"! I checked this morning, it's against the rules.
Sulley: What if we disguise the new team to look like the old team?
Mike: Oh no, we are not cheating!
Sulley: It's not cheating, it's... leveling the playing field.
[Mike narrows his eye]
Sulley: Okay, so it's kinda cheating.
- Storks: Junior (stork) responding to Tulip (human) about the baby they are trying to deliver.
Junior: We're not like a family, we're just a guy and girl trying to put our baby to sleep.
- In The LEGO Batman Movie, when Dick Grayson discovers the Batcave and sees Batman:
Dick: Does Batman live in Bruce Wayne's basement?
Batman: No, Bruce Wayne lives in Batman's attic!
- The Mummy (1999): To save his own skin, Beni agrees to work for Imhotep. In a scene where Beni is acting as translator, Evelyn shows how much better she is with languages than he by "correcting" his translation with a synonym.
Beni: Come with me, my princess. It is time to make you mine, forever.
Evelyn: "For all eternity", idiot.
- 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 Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties, as Jon tells Smithy about the mix-up between Garfield and Prince:
Smithy: Are you saying you have a cat that's Prince's doppelganger?
Jon: No, I'm saying they look exactly alike, and there's a chance they may have gotten mixed up.
- 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:
- 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.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl:
- Jack Sparrow loves doing that.
Anamaria: You stole my boat!
Jack: Borrowed! Borrowed without permission, but with every intention of giving it back to you.
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 a ship? That ship? [beckoning to the Dauntless]
Jack: Commandeer. We're going to commandeer [points to the Interceptor] that ship. Nautical term.
- Jack Sparrow loves doing that.
- Pre-emptively averted by Sgt. Howie in The Wicker Man (1973). "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.
- 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 Director 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.
- 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 Spın̈al Tap:
Marty: The last time Tap toured America, they were, 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.
- Subverted in the end. Ian is the only one who knows that the band's popularity is declining in America, but is exploding in Japan.
- In Avengers: Age of Ultron, Tony has a plan involving the casket they just recovered from Ultron.
Bruce: So, you want me to help you put Jarvis into this thing?
Tony: No, of course not! I want to help you put Jarvis in this thing. We're out of my field here. You know bio-organics better than anyone.
- In High School Musical 2, Sharpay whines about how she doesn't deserve the bad things currently happening to her, as (in her view) she's a good person: "I've never lied! Beat Except when necessary..."
- From Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation:
Luther: Benji needed my help.
Benji: I didn't need help. I just...I needed assistance, it's a different thing.
- Home Alone 2: Lost in New York: The black/white mafia movie that Kevin watches (and includes in the security system) has one of the criminals claim that they're convinced the other character is innocent... except the gun they have isn't convinced and opens fire on them.
"Alright, I believe ya. But my Tommy Gun don't!"
- Ferris Bueller's Day Off has this during Ferris and Cameron's argument after Cameron dupes Rooney over the phone.
- Hela, while recruiting Skurge in Thor: Ragnarok:
Hela: When I was young, every great King had an executioner. Not just to execute people, but also to execute their vision... But mainly to execute people.
- 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: "I was a drunk. You have to be richer than I was to be an alcoholic."
- Granny Weatherwax doesn't get lost. She always knows where she is. It's the rest of the world that has a location problem. This is actually accurate as of Witches Abroad.
- Discworld itself doesn't have continuity errors, but it does occasionally have alternate pasts. This 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 by 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:
- 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".
- Capital-A Assassins do not "kill" people. They "inhume", "delete", "rub out", or "remove" people, but "killing" implies a certain unprofessionalism.
- Capital-A Assassins are never "employed". They are "commissioned", "engaged", "retained", "contracted"note .
- The Assassins' Guild are so insistent on this, they've got regular citizens doing it. In Jingo, when Angua asks Carrot if Snowy Slopes (a deceased criminal) is an assassin, Carrot replies, "No. He just kills people for money."
- It's not "necromancy", it's "Post-Mortem Communication". Necromancy is a very bad form of magic, done only by evil wizards. Since we are not evil wizards, what we are doing cannot possibly be called necromancy. To make it even better, the main stated reason why the Unseen University has a position for Post-Mortem Communication relies on it being necromancy (it allows UU to claim a monopoly on necromancy and such things done by bad wizards, and enforce it. With fireballs).
- As the author has asserted, Fourecks is NOT Australia. It just happens to share certain suspicious resemblances, turned Up to Eleven.
- Ankh-Morpork has a low rate of murder but a high rate of suicide. This is because there are many more ways to legally commit suicide in Ankh-Morpork than elsewhere in the Disc. These include calling a dwarf a lawn ornament or a troll a rock, announcing yourself as Ulfric the Unkillable, or walking in the Shades.
- 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 badass.
- Animorphs has Ax retort that he did not fall asleep in class, as has 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:
Drone: 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".
- 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."
- Acheron Hades, the main villain of the first Thursday Next novel, isn't "mad", despite the fact that he does terrible things for the sake of doing them. No, he's "differently-moraled". And don't you forget it.
- The Dresden Files: In Skin Game Murphy asks Harry if he really intends to rob Hades. Harry replies that he intends to burgle Hades, and that it won't be robbery since he, in spite of Murphy's previous impressions of him, is not about to offer violence to a god. There is a genuine legal distinction between robbery and burglary, which most people don't think about much, but Murphy, being a police officer, would be well aware of the difference (namely, "Robbery" involves violence or the threat of it, while "Burglary" only requires taking stuff).
- In Monster Hunter Legion:
- The Hunters are fighting a monster that can take your worst fears and make them real. Trip worries about what the it might be able to pull from Owen's mind:
Trip: I mean, come on, you've been to Hell.
Owen: It wasn't really Hell. It was more of an infinite dimension of eternal suffering populated by awful beings beyond comprehension. Totally different.
- The sequel contains descriptions of what a Christian like Trip would probably consider Hell (the dimension where Lucifier and the other Fallen Angels were banished after their rebellion against God failed), and it reveals that yes, it is in fact a totally different place from the dimension of the Old Ones that Owen visited, and they don't have much in common beyond the fact that they both suck.
- The Hunters are fighting a monster that can take your worst fears and make them real. Trip worries about what the it might be able to pull from Owen's mind:
- In Paul Robinson's In the Matter Of: The Gatekeeper: The Gate Contracts, George Green is asked if he was rude to someone. He pulls a Rules Lawyer and asks for the definition of "rude". His boss hands him an electronic dictionary and discovers he was, so he admits it. Later he tells his boss he was going to say no, he had been "curt" but he discovered it's essentially the same thing, so he said yes, he was rude.
- Ender's Game:
- Graff claims that Ender isn't a killer, he just "wins thoroughly"...by killing his opponents.
- Similarly, Word of God is that Ender didn't exterminate the Buggers, he "removed their ability to make war" - and it just so happened that he did so by exterminating them. This isn't just sophistry, though: the idea that the morality of an action is determined solely by the motives behind it is prominent throughout the series, to the point that it's at the core of the religion Ender founds.
- In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the Oompa-Loompas' song about Augustus Gloop:
But dont, dear children, be alarmed;
Augustus Gloop will not be harmed,
Although, of course, we must admit
He will be altered quite a bit.
Hell be quite changed from what hes been,
When he goes through the fudge machine.
- As the song goes on to make clear, "altered" includes being sliced up with knives and boiled.
- In Star Wars: Kenobi, Orrin Gault, deep in debt to Loan Sharks, doesn't want Annileen's money! He just wants to marry her so he can access her account!
- Lampshaded in Angel in the Whirlwind. Of course the Theocracy doesn't persecute other religions, they allow total religious freedom! ... Except its tax policy is heavily slanted in favor of the One True Faith, and their standard practices upon conquering a planet include the destruction of native places of worship and summary execution of any religious leaders.
- In The Ramayana, Ravana reassures Sita that, of his "great love", he's not going to rape her. Just kill her if she doesn't have sex with him.
- Interesting that the distinction might be meaningful in Ravana's case. Long ago he raped an apsara (basically, a minor goddess) and consequently was cursed: should he try to rape another woman, he would immediately die. But the curse said nothing about killing or threatening murder...
- World War Z T. Sean Collins is a mercenary, and calls himself such. He finds the tendency among his colleagues to use euphemisms like "freelance security consultant" to be a hypocritical way of whitewashing their profession.
- In Lawrence Block's Burglars Can't Be Choosers Ellie claims to be David Merrick's secretary over the phone to get some important information from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Bernie: I thought you never lie.
Ellie: I occasionally tell an expeditious untruth.
Bernie: How does that differ from a barefaced lie?
Ellie: It's a subtle distinction.
- The Reckoners Trilogy: Megan teases David about being a nerd throughout Steelheart; in the sequel, Firefight, David's narration frequently states that he's not a nerd, eventually leading to:
I hadn't been a nerd, mind you. I'd just been the type of guy who spent a lot of time by himself, focused entirely on a single consuming interest.
- Doctor Sleep: A minor character is described by Dan as only having two emotions: "Angry" and "Severely Pissed-Off"
- 'The Scarlet Pimpernel: Chauvelin is shocked when Marguerite accuses him of using blackmail to force her to spy on her friends. He'd never do such a thing! He's simply offering her the opportunity to serve her country, and simultaneously prevent her brother from being killed.
- In an episode of Selfie, Eliza is hit by a car and then falls down a manhole. When Henry comes to visit her, she says she's okay — and then lists her terrible injuries.
Eliza: Oh, it's not a big deal. I just got hit by a smart car, dislocated my tailbone, fell down a manhole, fractured my pelvis, banged my head, got a concussion, saw the white light, ran into Tupac and Biggie, who squashed it.
- On Angel, 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: Insistent Terminology possibly due to the fact that she is still trying to snag Clark Kent (she is talking about another guy):
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 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."
- Later, when the Doctor and the TARDIS get to speak, they argue over the distinction between "borrowing" and stealing.
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?
- During Ten's second season cliffhanger, the Daleks and Cybermen prepare to fight, with Daleks distinguishing the conflict between war and "pest control"; implying that the Cybermen weren't worthy of the fight.
Dalek: [to Cybermen] THIS IS NOT WAR!! THIS IS PEST CONTROL!!!note
- When Inara and Mal fight (well, at one point), Inara crosses the line and implies Mal is a petty criminal. She tries to backtrack and call it suo-shee instead. note
- From "Objects In Space", River is having a moment and distinguishes between "understand" and "comprehend".
River: She understands. She doesn't comprehend.
Mal: Glad we have that cleared up.
- Holden Radcliffe in Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. insists that his robot is not artificial intelligence, but rather mimicry of human behavior.
- Inverted on The Vicar of Dibley in "Love and Marriage", when Alice shows her mum's ideas for her wedding dress (which includes Teletubbies, a bobbie's helmet, and a train made of Thomas the Tank Engine characters, all made of wool and linoleum). Geraldine asks if she can give her honest opinion and Alice says yes... so long as it's not nasty or critical in any way.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
- Cordelia does this as early as the second episode.
Cordelia: I have to have the most expensive thing. Not because it's expensive, but because it costs more.
- Buffy also prefers to think of it as "slaying" vampires rather than "killing" them.note
- Cordelia does this as early as the second episode.
- 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.)
- The Daily Show:
- From John Stewart: "[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.note
- Rigel from Farscape does this a lot.
- He insists 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 program!
Barry: There's too much filth and nonsense!
- 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 Eric Idle did 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 Red Dwarf:
- In the 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.
- This is 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.
- In the episode "Emohawk: Polymorph II":
- A skit on Royal Canadian Air Farce during the Bre-X scandal: "Now, Pamela [Wallin, a somewhat famous Canadian news anchor], we don't lie—we misappropriate the truth."
- Drake & Josh has this exchange where the titular stepbrothers are doing their homework in one episode.
Josh: Are you copying my answers?
Drake: No. I'm just comparing your answers with the answers I'm about to write.
- Star Trek:
- Star Trek: The Original Series:
- The 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.
- Several times through the series and movies, Spock is accused of lying, only to reply that he "exaggerated", or "implied" or in some other way deliberately led others to false conclusions without technically lying.
- The episode "Court Martial" has this exchange when Spock tries to defend Kirk on the witness stand.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
- At one point, Sisko says, "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.
- Star Trek: The Original Series:
- In The X-Files, Mulder once claimed "I would never lie. I willfully participated in a campaign of misinformation."
- "It's one of those irregular verbs, isn't it? 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."F
- 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 in the second season of Game of Thrones:
Janos Slynt: I won't have my honor questioned by an imp!
Tyrion Lannister: I'm not questioning your honor, Lord Janos. I'm denying its existence.note
Hawkeye: Oh, no. No credit extended to visiting supply sergeants.
- A typical conversation...
BJ: It's nothing personal, he just doesn't trust you.
- Also, when Margaret states that they are blackmailing Frank, Hawkeye and BJ respond, "Blackmail is such an ugly word. We prefer extortion."
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".
- On the 2010 reimagined Hawaii Five-0, Danny is a regular offender of this, usually when it comes to Steve and his tendency to do things his way which, according to Danny, is the insane way that requires professional help.
Steve: You were worried about me!
Danno: No, I wasn't worried, I was rationally concerned.
- Quoth Esposito, in an episode of Castle, while chasing a suspect: "No, I didn't lose him, I just... don't have visual contact."
- The Revolution Will Be Televised has the sketch character of Eugene X, a South African white supremacist. He denies being racist, saying that he instead knows some races are superior to others.
- Stargate SG-1, when Mitchell finds Carter has been working in her lab all night.
Mitchell: Did you sleep here last night?
Carter: No... I slept down the hall in my quarters.
- On Slings & Arrows, playwright Lionel Train suffers an attack of insecurity over his new play, and tries to get the actors to improvise a script for him.
Lionel: You're paraphrasing. That's not what I want you to do. I want to tell the story as written, but in your own words.
Ellen: That's what paraphrasing is.
- In the Chuck episode "Chuck Versus the Best Friend", Morgan wants to figure out if his ex has a new boyfriend.
Morgan: Dude, it's not stalking, okay? It's caring enough about someone to learn things about them they won't tell you themselves.
Chuck: Which is stalking.
- For example:
Dave: Wait a minute, you wrote that review?
Jimmy: Why not? I own the damn magazine.
Dave: Isn't that a conflict of interest?
Jimmy: No, no, no, no... well, yeah.
- In another episode, Dave lectures the staff about how important the office security system is and how he doesn't want them trying to circumvent it. Beth protests that they're not circumventing it, they're "just trying to get around it."
- For example:
- Veep: In "C*ntgate", Mike states to the press that the President is not planning on bailing out banks, she's just going to give them large infusions of cash.
- In The Twilight Zone episode "Number Twelve Looks Just Like You", everyone that reaches the age of nineteen undergoes "Transformation." It is a change in physical appearance that makes you "beautiful and young with the only drawback being there are a limited set of choices for each gender, so every adult looks identical to a large chunk of the population. The doctors assure the main character that nobody has ever been forced to undergo the transformation if they didn't want to, before calmly adding "We just find out why you don't want to and make the necessary correction."
- House: Cuddy confronts House about something or other, and he says, "Who squealed? Taub?" Cuddy responds, "I'll never tell. But yes."
- The crew is not going to steal a wake. Have some respect; they're just borrowing the wake.
- "The Second David Job": It's not extortion, it's "oversight".
- "The Ice Man Job": Not a bribe, a "processing fee".
- "The San Lorenzo Job": His engagement isn't a lie, it's a campaign promise; he makes it, and then doesn't do it.
Vitori: How is a campaign promise different from a lie?
Nate: Eh, it's complicated.
- The "I'm not racist, but..." formula was parodied in an episode of Alas Smith and Jones, with one man saying he's no racist, he just believes black and white have separate cultural identities, another saying he's no sexist, he just believes men and woman are good at different things, and a third saying he's no chiropodist, he just makes a living performing medical procedures on people's feet.
- Gotham: "Smile Like You Mean It": When Selina accuses Bruce of lying to her, he says, "I didn't tell you the truth." Selina tells him they're the same thing.
- The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: In "Not With My Pig, You Don't", Uncle Phil gets angry with Will for apparently ruining his image by telling the press stories about his boyhood on a farm, and his visiting mother is furious that he's ashamed of his upbringing.
Hattie: What have you got to be ashamed of? We always put food on the table and clothes on your back!
Phil: Mama, I'm not ashamed! There are just certain aspects of my life I don't wish to emphasize.
Hattie: Where I come from, we call that being ashamed, Mr. Bigshot!
- On The Good Place, Jason describes his career: "I wasn't a failed DJ. I was pre-successful."
- Blake's 7.
- In "Shadow" our anti-heroes decide to form an alliance of convenience with The Syndicate.
Blake: We're going to use them, Gan, not do business with them.
Avon: A subtle distinction that escapes me for the moment.
- From "Trial".
- In "Assassin", Avon gets a bit testy on hearing a legendary Professional Killer has been hired to kill them.
Avon: All right, he's not infallible. It's just that up to now he has never failed!
- In "Shadow" our anti-heroes decide to form an alliance of convenience with The Syndicate.
- In The Golden Girls, Dorothy does this after Blanch calls Roses a slut after finding out she had 56 boyfriends in the span of a year before marrying Charlie.
Dorothy: Oh, come on, Blanche, how can you say that? So the woman had fifty-six boyfriends in one year. She's not a slut.Rose: Thank you, Dorothy.Dorothy: She is The Slut! She is the Grand Poobah of Slutdom! She is the easiest woman in this room!
- "Only on Days That End in 'Y'" by Clay Walker:
The only time I ever miss you, honey
Is when I'm alone or when I'm with somebody
Your memory never even gets to me
Except for when I'm awake and when I'm sleeping
Girl, you never even cross my mind
Except just when I think I've left you far behind
Only when I laugh, only when I cry
And only on days that end in "Y"
- While normally just a case of Insistent Terminology, whenever a
ring announcercommentator or wrestlersuperstar verbally corrects their colleague about how to refer to Professional WrestlingSports Entertainment, it starts slipping into this territory. Especially if it's blatant enough to get the fansThe Universe to start booing about it.
- In one episode of The Men from the Ministry the General Assistance Department is given the task of distributing Culture Ministry's yearly Art's Conucil Grants for the entire Britain's artists. After giving most of it away to small-time no-names and simple con-men, Sir Gregory angrily calls and asks Lennox-Brown if he's forgotten annual grants for all the national organisations. He immediately states that he definitely hasn't, since he's never even heard of them.
- Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric has Amy suggest that she and Sonic go one way, while Knuckles and Tails go another. Knuckles calls the plan stupid...then suggests the same thing, just in different wording. Sonic just agrees to it to get Knuckles moving.
- Call of Duty 2 has a mission called "Retreat? We're Advancing in Another Direction".
- World of Warcraft:
- Victory in The Halls of Reflection relies upon you running from The Lich King 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!"
- During the alpha and beta tests, your character's experience gain would gradually decay as you kept playing, and only recover while you were logged out. This mechanic was poorly received, as it made players feel like they were being punished for playing the game. So in the game proper, your character would instead accumulate an experience bonus while logged out, which would of course be used up in the course of grinding until you didn't have any left. Despite being the same basic mechanic and serving the same basic purpose, players interpreted this version as a reward for taking breaks, and so it was much better received.
- Final Fantasy thieves have a tendency for this.
- 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.
- In Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions, Balthier clarifies for some bounty hunters: "I'm no thief. I'm a Sky Pirate."
- Final Fantasy XIV made the same mistake as World of Warcraft above — originally, the Anti-Grinding came in the form of a "Fatigue" system which reduced experience as your session grew longer, and players hated it. An update changed it to a limited "rested bonus" that accumulated while logged out, and this time players loved what was essentially the same mechanic.
- Fire Emblem Awakening: Regarding the passing on of important information:
Lissa: Vaike! Did you forget to tell Stahl about our mission?
Vaike: The Vaike never forgets! ...I just don't always remember, is all...
- 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:
- The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword: 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!
- Also, from the Old World Blues DLC:
- 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.
- In Sid Meiers Alpha Centauri, "war" has become a taboo term, on account of the memory of Earth That Was. Nevertheless, the various factions still get into bloody conflicts with each other. So how do they get around this? Well, instead of "declaring war," they "pronounce Vendetta." That oughta do it!
- In Gizmos: Riddle of the Universe Kurt suggests reporting a crashed NASA unmanned spacecraft to the Gizmo Land government.
Sid: Are you serious? Man up!
Kurt: Hey, I'm not scared, I'm just a little frightened.
- Mortal Kombat 9: Raiden quotes the trope name word-for-word when the Elder Gods refuse to aid Earthrealm against Outworld's invasion; according to the Elder Gods, since Shao Kahn is merely invading Earthrealm and has yet to actually merge it with Outworld, he hasn't actually violated the laws of Mortal Kombat.
Raiden: A distinction without a difference! Innocents are dying at the hands of Outworld!
- Mentioned as a backstory element in Tyranny: Occulted Jade, the (now-fled) leader of the Tidecaster faction of mages, insisted on calling herself an Archon instead of an Exarch — an Archon being simply an Exarch (being with special individual power) who is recognised by Kyros, the local Evil Overlord (Jade did it as a Take That! against Kyros' authority). Since every other Exarch is an Archonnote , it's not something that comes up much.
- This trope's name is dropped in Injustice 2, in one of the intro quotes between Atrocitous and Brainiac:
Atrocitus: You're worse than the Manhunters!
Brainiac: I collect planets, not destroy them.
Atrocitus: A distinction without a difference!
- Batman: The Telltale Series: Batman tries to convince the captured Penguin to give up his masters plan.
Batman: You think she cares for you? You are nothing more than a pawn she has discarded.
The Penguin: What the hell do you think I am? I am no pawn, I am a Soldier Ill tell you nothing!
- In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Spirit of Justice, Blackquill doesn't think Nahyuta knows enough about rakugo in Case 4, but due to politeness, we get this exchange:
Blackquill: Do you have enough knowledge of this art form to handle the case competently?
Nahyuta: Are you implying that I am not qualified for this case?
Blackquill: Not yet — I am simply trying to ascertain your familiarity with the topic... for now.
- FTL: Kestrel Adventures: "We prefer the term 'labourers who only accept payment in terms of food, shelter, and water'." — A rock slaver on slavery.
- Red vs. Blue:
- There's 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 episode 566 of Darths & Droids.
Palpatine: The Jedi have become a threat to the Republic, and... um...
Clone Trooper: Oh, no! That's terrible.
Palpatine: ...they attacked me.
Clone Trooper: Those bastards! Do you want us to kill them, sir?
Palpatine: Well, I wouldn't put it quite like that, but... Yes.
- This wonderful Evil, Inc. comic subverts the expectation of the "bad guy" when he insists on Insistent Terminology.
- Vincent from My Life In Blue:
Vincent: I'm not queer, I'm inverted, thou lie-breeding swine.
- The Last Days of FOXHOUND
- The Order of the Stick:
- Haley isn't a thief; she's a "freelance wealth redistribution specialist."
- She also describes Elan thus: "He's not useless, he's... use-impaired."
- Vaarsuvius insists they did NOT sell their soul to fiends but merely negotiated an exchange with three gentlemen from other planes of existence, specifically planes in the ventral direction, involving a fixed-term lease with an occupancy date yet to be determined. The distinction between a sale and a lease is important (to the story if not to the conversation), the attempt to imply that the other parties in the agreement were anything other than fiends not so much.
- Because clean-up dutynote sounds lame, Belkar becomes Doomsealernote . Lampshaded in the last panel.
- Schlock Mercenary got a lot of this:
- From Misfile: I'm not spying, I'm strategically listening.
- From Three Panel Soul: "They're not replacements. They're just going to do the same job as you, and eventually you won't work here anymore."
- From Vexxarr, a variation.
Firstofficerbot: Is this true?
Vexxarr: Only in the sense that it's factually accurate...
- In Sorcery 101, Asagi states he doesn't make threats, since he lacks the reputation to make them effective. "For that sort of reputation, one must occasionally leave survivors."
- From The Sanity Circus, as Attley and Fletch quiz Donovan Sparc for answers to some of their problems:
Donovan: Uh, yes, the "secret" organisation. I wouldn't so much call it "secret", though... it just... handles things without the public knowing.Attley: That's pretty much the definition of secret.
- Stand Still, Stay Silent: After an event that has every reason to have taken an emotional toll on him, Reynir, when asked, insists that he's not depressed, just feeling crushing regret and helplessness.
- Lampshaded in this Penny Arcade:
- From Unsounded, a rewording of the page image:
Ruffles: [Duane]'s inside the mop closet spying on us.
Duane, bursting out of the closet: I am not! I was assessing the situation ere intruding!
- "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
- 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."
- Third Rate Gamer:
- In his 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."
- In his Super Mario Bros./Super Mario Bros. 2 review, he parodies and quotes near-verbatim what the The Irate Gamer said about Super Mario Bros. 2:
"This is a horrible game that I remember fondly playing when I was five years old. I don't really hate Mario 2, but when you compare it to the other Mario games, it just has "ass" written all over it!"
- In his Daze Before Christmas review:
- In Jim Sterling's second crack at Kobra Studios' Second Warfare (after they suggested that he had been criticising the game 'poorly' by missing features like a flashlight and grenade launcher, both of which turned out to be equally hideous-looking and borderline nonfunctional) has him make this gem of a comment:
Some people might suggest, like in other videos where I've had tiffs with developers, that I'm being "petty" here. I would like to refute that; I would say I'm being infantile and petulant. [Beat] And spiteful. That's what I'm- I wouldn't say I'm being "petty". I think 'spiteful' is a much better word for what I'm being right now.
- DSBT InsaniT: Perry is Snake's "partner", not his "pet"!
- A common pattern among far-right Youtube channels is to make a big deal out of the tiny differences between the specific far-right subset said channel belongs to and other groups of far-right Youtube channels. The difference between a racist authoritarian calling himself a "race realist", a racist authoritarian calling himself a "classical liberal", and a racist authoritarian who openly identifies as a neo-Nazi can cause massive fights within the far-right community, even as the very similar political goals and talking points mean they all dissolve into a bigoted blur from the perspective of anyone further left than Joseph McCarthy.
- 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:
- 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.
- In Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, Oblina practically uses one as a Catch-Phrase, usually after someone disregards her advice and later pays for it: "I'm certainly not going to say 'I told you so'— but I told you so!"
- From the episode "The Cryonic Woman":
Fry: Let's do this now and never regret it.
Fry: I don't regret this, but I both rue and lament it.
Fry: But she's totally different now! Before she was demanding and possessive, but now she wants me to do stuff for her and be with her all the time!
- 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.
- In "How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back":
Farnsworth: The Central Bureaucracy is a tangled mess of red tape and regulations! I've never been, but a friend of mine went mad just trying to find the washroom!
Leela: Then we'll need a guide. Someone who's been there before.
Farnsworth: Oh, I've been there before! Lots of times!
- In "A Clone of My Own":
Zoidberg: Now I'm not saying Professor Farnsworth is old, but considering his age, he's likely to die soon.
Cubert: Look Professor, I may be identical to you in every possible way but that doesn't mean I'm anything like you!
- From "The Bird-Bot of Ice-Catraz":
Farnsworth: Good news, everyone! You're going on a highly controversial mission!
Farnsworth: Oh my, no. Now, for this highly controversial mission...
Free Waterfall Sr.: Now Leela, nobody enjoys shooting penguins. But if you have to shoot penguins... well, you might as well enjoy it.
- From the episode "The Cryonic Woman":
- 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 a meltdown "one of those annoying buzzwords" and calls the situation an "unrequested fission surplus."
- In "Krusty Gets Busted", when Krusty the Clown is accused of armed robbery and the Simpsons are gathering Krusty merchandise for a public bonfire.
Bart: But Dad, you're giving into mob mentality!
Homer: No, I'm not. I'm hopping on the bandwagon. Now come on, son, get with the winning team!
- "Homer the Heretic"
Marge: Are you actually giving up your faith?
Homer: No! No-no-no-no-no no! Well, yes.
- In "I Am Furious (Yellow)", when Bart creates the web comic "Angry Dad", based on Homer.
Lisa: Bart, this is just Dad.
Bart: It's a Composite Character: your dad, my dad, and a little Maggie's dad.
- In "Simpson Tide", when Homer is accused of having defected to Russia:
Abe: My Homer is not a Communist. He may be a liar, a pig, an idiot, and a Communist, but he is not a porn star!
- In "Homer Defined", when Marge is trying to convince Milhouse's mom that Bart isn't a bad influence, she explains "He's got a spark. It's not a bad thing. Of course, it makes him do bad things..."
- "Tennis the Menace":
- In one Aladdin: The Series episode, Iago says "This isn't stealing! It's surplus inventory reduction!"
- Happens all the time in Sonic Boom. Typically it's Orbot and Cubot making the exchange, though Sonic and Knuckles get a couple as well.
- 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?"
- Super Mario World:
- Oogtar puts it plain and simple. "Oogtar not lost! Oogtar just... not know where he is."
- 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.
- 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 Dinosaur": Dan admits to being "a deceiver, a misleader, and a fabricator", but denies being a liar.
- A Running Gag is for somebody (usually Krieger) to be accused of some immoral or bizarre activity, then to give a long, implausible denial, and finally state "Also, yes."
- And in "Job Offer", we learn that Malory had moved without telling Archer when he was a kid coming back from Boarding School for the winter break, leaving him stranded at the station on Christmas.
Malory: Eve! It was only Christmas Eve!
- The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy:
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, in "Driver's Test":
Uncle Grandpa: But do you know how to drive the Uncle Grandpa Way?
Mary: You mean like on top of buildings and in outer space and stuff?
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."
- The Amazing World of Gumball:
- Darwin does this twice in episode "The Name":
- In "The Boss":
Gumball: You have a better idea?
Darwin: No, I have a much better idea.
- Lampshaded in an episode of My Gym Partner's a Monkey, where Adam thinks that Lola the llama is trying to steal Ingrid's life.
Windsor: It does appear that Ingrid is a victim of an APA: Aggressive Pack Assimilation. It's when a wayward and oftentimes mentally unstable animal with no pack to speak of attempts to circumvent the normal and customary rituals for joining a group by simply disposing of the weakest member and taking their place.
Adam: So, Lola's stealing Ingrid's life? That's what I said.
Windsor: Yes, but my description was wordier.
- Family Guy:
- Rush Limbaugh regarding his car: "I'm not saying you have to be gay to drive something else, but if you drive something else, you're probably a guy who likes to pleasure other men sexually".
- "It's not so much that I want to kill [my mother], just that I want to... make it so that she's not alive anymore."
- In The Little Rascals episode "King of the Hobos", after Porky introduces his friends to Boxcar Bill, Darla asks the hobo to wash all the windows on her house.
Boxcar Bill: You mean, work?
Darla: Think of it as a game you have to play.
- In an episode of The Critic, Jay's mother Eleanor, writes a very cruel children's book based on Jay called The Fat Little Pig. Jay asks if it's about him, and she replies, "No, no, a thousand times, no... well yes, but so what?"
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Applejack will have you know she was not raised in a barn...
AJ: "My family just happens to have a barn. Where I was born. And... spent most of my formative years..."Rainbow Dash: "Rrrrraised in a barn!"
- 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.note 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.
- Near-ubiquitous in any culture where saying No is disapproved of, whether because it entails a loss of face ("I am unable to satisfy you") or because it implies an insult to the asker ("you want something you can't have"). See the Jasper Carrot stand-up routine about the Balinese in Comedy above. Their neighbors, 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."
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Daniel Boone once said of himself, "I can't say as ever I was lost, but I was bewildered once for three days." This anecdote is sometimes used by the Boy Scouts while training in orientation to make an important distinction: To be lost is to be beyond hope of recovery. To be disoriented is to simply not know where you happen to be, a situation which is quite fixable if you do not lose hope.
- 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.note
- Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery had to get round this problem in World War II. during his limited participation on the Battle of the Bulgenote , he was placed in command of a significant part of the American forces on the northern flank of the German advance. His American subordinates were clearly unhappy about his request to them to retreat without firing a shot or even having seen the enemy. this was even though Monty had seen their positions were clearly untenable in the event of any determined German attack and could easily be outflanked and encircled. With great and uncharacteristic diplomacy and tact, Monty got them to see that this was not so much a retreat as a strategic realignment to positions they could realistically hold, upon which the Germans would blunt their offensive strength, and from which a quick counter-attack could be launched. The Americans complied.
- In the Pacific Theatre of World War II, the Japanese were notorious for refusing to surrender, which they considered shameful. The few Japanese who did surrender early on gave their captors a word of advice: telling Japanese troops to "cease resisting," rather than "surrender," would greatly overcome that indoctrination. This resulted in higher numbers of captures, although the Japanese still continued to fight to the death in most cases.
- Common in politics from every side, "It's not a cut, it's an efficiency dividend", "We're not raising taxes, we're indexing them to inflation", "It's not a new tax it's a levy/co-payment/tax adjustment", "It's not a broken promise, circumstances changed which meant we couldn't fulfill our original commitments", "It's not a lie, it's an alternative fact".
- The Republican and Democratic Parties in the United States respectively use the term RINO and DINO (Republican/Democrat In Name Only) to describe members who strike them as this trope (identifying with one party while seemingly promoting the values of the other), particularly when they support the entire party platform except for one item.
- Due to the peculiarities of British History, cavalry regiments did not have sergeants. They had Corporals of Horse, which were exactly equivalent of sergeants, but since even enlisted cavalrymen were gentlemen, and the word "sergeant" shares a root with the word "servant", the term could not be applied to them. To this day, the Household Cavalry maintains the tradition (though it is the only regiment to do so).
- The same tradition applies in the French army: the infantry has "caporaux" and "sergents", the cavalry (now armored regiments) has "brigadiers" and "Maréchaux des Logis". Same ranks, same functions, different names.