I wouldn’t trust them an inch: talking about people you don’t trust

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by Liz Walter

In my last post, I presented some words and phrases to describe people who are loyal and who you can trust. Today’s post deals with the opposite.

Let’s start with a few adjectives. Someone who is disloyal does something that shows that they do not support you or that they are not really your friend. A stronger word for this is treacherous, which often implies that the disloyalty was planned and deliberate. You might describe someone you know you can’t trust as untrustworthy:

I can’t discuss James’s problems with you. That would be disloyal.

His colleagues refuse to speak to him because of his treacherous behaviour.

The judge said that she was an untrustworthy witness.

If you say that someone has stabbed you in the back, you mean that they have harmed you in a disloyal way. If someone throws you under the bus, they sacrifice you or let you take the blame in order to get an advantage for themselves:

He was a trusted business partner and he stabbed me in the back.

When the scandal broke, the minister just threw a senior civil servant under the bus.

An emphatic way of saying you don’t trust someone is to say that you wouldn’t trust them as far as you could throw them or that you wouldn’t trust them an inch.

She’s lovely but I wouldn’t trust her boyfriend an inch/as far as I could throw him.

We also don’t trust people when we don’t believe that they are genuine in what they say and do. If someone is insincere, they say things they don’t really believe. A slightly more informal word for this is phoney (UK & US)/phony (US) – this word can also be used as a noun:

It was obvious that her flattery was insincere.

I’m fed up with phoney politicians.

He claimed to care about us, but I always knew he was a phoney.

To emphasize that someone lied in a very obvious way, we can say that they lied through their teeth, and to emphasize that there are a lot of lies, we talk about a pack of lies. When someone is willing to say anything for their own advantage, even when it obviously isn’t true, they would say black is white:

He told me he was a qualified doctor, but it turned out he was lying through his teeth.

They told us a pack of lies about their company.

Honestly, Sarah would say black is white if she thought it would help her.

I hope that these phrases are useful, but that you won’t need them for people in your own life!

18 thoughts on “I wouldn’t trust them an inch: talking about people you don’t trust

  1. james

    Thanks for the teaching it goes a long way although there must be untrustworthy friend in our life to make to make life a teacher to us

  2. Nana

    Hi Liz, thank you so much for all these posts! They’re always so helpful, no matter the English level of the reader. Even for an English teacher, this is valuable teaching material!
    Thank you so much and all the best! (^3^)

  3. Eudy

    Thank Liz for this post. You are a safe pair of hands. I was expecting this post anxiously and you didn’t disappoint. When it comes to putting effort in helping others increase their vocabulary.

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