What does the idiom "pull one's leg" mean?

Are you using the idiom pull one's leg but not sure about its meaning? Using idioms, which are important elements of spoken and written language, in the right place strengthens your language skills. Examine the meaning of the pull one's leg idiom and the situations in which it is used.

Meaning of "pull one's leg"


‘Pull one's leg’ is an idiomatic expression in English that refers to deceiving someone by telling them something that is not true, usually as a joke. It generally implies that the speaker is teasing or teasing someone in a friendly way.


The phrase was first used in the late 1800s. It is thought to have originated from the idea that a person is being ‘pulled’ or ‘leg-pulled’ by someone, as if their leg were being pulled by a string.


The phrase is used today in a friendly and humorous way. It can be used to tell someone a ‘white lie’ or to make a joke out of a situation. It can also be used to describe someone who is known to frequently tell stories that are not true.

Example Sentences

  • "Don't believe everything he tells you—he likes to pull your leg."
  • "Jack was pulling my leg when he said he'd won the lottery."
  • "He's always pulling people's legs, you know he can't be serious."

The meanings of the words in the "pull one's leg" idiom

Idioms with similar meaning

"Don't judge a book by its cover" is an English idiom that means you shouldn't make assumptions about someone or something based solely on its appearance. In Japanese, the similar idiom is "Hana yori dango," which translates to "Dumplings rather than flowers." This idiom means that substance is more important than appearance.


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