FANDOM


WikEd fancyquotesQuotesBug-silkHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extensionPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifierAnalysisPhoto linkImage LinksHaiku-wide-iconHaikuLaconic
THIS IS NOT WAR! THIS IS PEST CON-TROL!
Dalek Sec, Doctor Who ("Doomsday")

First you say what it isn't. Then you say what it is. Both of them effectively have the same meaning, though.

This is when a character rejects a word in preference of a more colorful 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, Half Truth, Insistent Terminology.

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

Contrast Both Sides Have a Point.

Examples of No Except Yes include:


Advertising

  • It's not a cookie, it's a Fig Newton.
  • It's way better than fast food, it's Wendy's.
  • It's not TV, it's HBO.


Anime & Manga

 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!

 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.
  • Similarily, 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.


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

 April: "So... you used to work for the Foot Clan?"

Breech: "The word 'work' implies I got paid. I think a more accurate term would be, 'enslaved'."


Films -- Animated

 Helen: We were not arguing, we were... discussing.

Violet: Pretty loud discussion.

 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!"


Films -- Live-Action

 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.

 Nick: This is murder!

Danny: No, it's not; it's ketchup!

 Coop: See, my feeling is that if there weren't any women none of us would be here.

Maverick: What kind of sense does that make? If there were no men, we wouldn't be here either.

Coop: Are you mocking me?

Maverick: Don't get ruffled. Let's just say I was agreeing with you in a totally unusual way.

  • In Rat Race the rich gambler orchestrating the titular race (John Cleese played him) 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: You're crazy!

Payne: No! Poor people are crazy, Jack. I'm eccentric.

 Anna Maria: You stole my boat!

Jack: Borrowed! Borrowed without permission, but with every intention of giving it back.

Anna Maria: But you DIDN'T!!

    • And in exactly the same vein:

 Will: We're going to steal a ship! That ship?

Jack: Commandeer. We're going to commandeer that [different] 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!

 Saavik: You lied.

Spock: I exaggerated.



Valeris: A lie?

Spock: An omission.



Spock: A lie?

Valeris: A choice.

    • And in the 2009 film:

 Young Spock: You lied?

 Old Spock: I implied.

 Prince Vultan: What is this?

Dr. Zarkov: Humanity.

Vultan: Madness!

 Peter: (in response to false Spidey bashing headline) That's slander.

J Jonah Jameson: It is not, I resent that! (beat) Slander is spoken. In print it's libel.

 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.

 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.
  • Tomorrow Never Dies

 James Bond (to megalomaniac Carver): Hmm... You're insane.

Carver: The difference between genius and insanity is measured only by success.

 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 pretty much 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 a 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.
  • From The Miracle of Morgan's Creek:

 Governor: This is the biggest thing to happen to this state since we stole it from the Indians!

The Boss: Borrowed.


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.
  • This happens in Narnia: Prince Caspian at the beginning.
  • 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.
    • 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".
    • And then there's Ahmed the Mad, AKA Ahmed the I Just Get These Headaches. He's obviously a parody of Abdul al'Hazred.
    • In Maskerade:

 "He was strangled, and then he was hung"

"Hanged. Men are hanged. Meat is hung"

"Yes, well, as I said. He was strangled, and then he was hung"

    • 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.
    • 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.
  • Ciaphas Cain 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; that saving people's lives is not selfless because in the long run it ensures his survival. You can bet each one of his stories has hundreds of these rewordings; being the Warhammer 40000 universe, though, he is a Badass.
  • 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.

  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy contains much that is apocryphal, or at least wildly inaccurate. But, it assures the reader, in the case of major discrepancy, it is always life that has got it wrong.
  • 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."

  • Lord Ivan Vorpatril, after he discovered his widowed mother had begun an affair with Simon Illyan, and Miles asked him not to yell about it: "I am not yelling. I'm being firm." Miles then asked him to be firm at a lower volume.
  • In Christopher Anvil's "Interstellar Patrol" stories:

 "Sir," said a dazed subordinate, "that isn't war."

"It isn't? What do you call it?"

"Extermination, sir. Pest control. War assumes some degree of equality between opponents."


Live-Action TV

  • Dalek Sec's description of how he intends to fight the Cybermen on Doctor Who.

 THIS IS NOT WAR! THIS IS PEST CON-TROL!

    • Which may also be a Shout-Out back to the very first Dalek serial:

 Doctor: That's sheer murder!

Dalek: No. Extermination.

    • The same line is used, in a different context, in the audio book Pest Control.
    • Of course, Sec is saying that he would not dignify what is about to happen with the name "war"; one does not make war on vermin...
    • The Sontarans got their own version in series 4:

 "This isn't war. This is sport!"

      • They had removed their enemies' ability to shoot back. When UNIT switched ammo to something that still worked, said Sontarans were slaughtered in a fair fight.
    • Possible example when The Doctor finds out the ghosts are really Cybermen in "Army of Ghosts":

 Doctor: It's not an invasion, it's too late for that. It's a victory.

 Doctor: It's not an invasion, it's an occupation.

      • Granted, invasion is a process. Occupation generally comes after a successful invasion. It's similar to the Army of Ghosts example above.
    • Later, when the Doctor and the TARDIS get to speak.

 TARDIS: Then you stole me. And I stole you.

Doctor: I borrowed you.

TARDIS: Borrowing implies the eventual intention to return the thing which was taken. What makes you think I would ever give you back?

 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.
    • Taken, perhaps, to an extreme elsewhere in Objects in Space:

 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.

      • Actually, that is externalism 101.

 Simon: So you're a horrible person that is going to kidnap my sister and take her to the people that tortured her.

Jubal: No, that ain't it at all.

Simon: Then what are you?

Jubal: I'm a paid professional that is going to take back a wanted fugitive to the proper authorities.

  • In The X-Files, Mulder once claimed "I would never lie. I willingly engaged in a campaign of misinformation."
  • 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."
  • 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.

  • "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."
  • 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."
  • Inverted in an episode of Buffy 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!

  • 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.
  • 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.

  • 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."
  • 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.

 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."
  • Averted in Heroes.

 Sylar: I'm not a Serial Killer.

Sylar's son figure: You kill people, you take souvenirs...

Sylar: Okay, technically, I'm a serial killer.

  • 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.

 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.

 Mrs. Thing: Oh, have you been shopping?

Mrs. Entity: No, I've been shopping.

  • 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!


Music


Professional Wrestling

  • The WWE uses the phrase "released to pursue future endeavors" as a much politer euphemism for "We fired his ass".
    • There are also the the phrase: "WWE has come to terms with the release of [insert wrestlers name], we wish him/her the best in his/hers 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.


Tabletop Games


Theater

  • In the musical Finian's 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.
    • Similarly, in Final Fantasy VI, Locke insists, "I'm not a thief, I'm a treasure hunter!"
  • 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!"

  • In Dawn of War: Winter Assault, Chaos lord Crull celebrates his acquisition of an ancient weapon:

 Know this! What will come to pass is no longer war! It is endless sacrifice in His name. Blood for the Blood God... let the universe... droooOOOOOooown in it!

  • Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword: First the devlopers 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".

 Grindor: I'm sorry, Starscream, I forgot: you don't retreat, you advance backwards!

 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!"

 Soldier: We have you surround, at least from this side!


Web Comics

 "I'm not queer, I'm inverted, thou lie-breeding swine."

 "Earth is a nature preserve, you feebs! This isn't even piracy--It's poaching!"

 Ocelot: 'Torture' is such an inelegant word. I'm an artist. Their testicles are my canvas.


Web Original

 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!"
  • From the trailer for Suburban Knights:

 Spoony: "So, it's like LARP'ing?"

Critic: "No! That's just a bunch of dorks dressing up and fighting for a fake reward."

Spoony: "While we're a bunch of dorks dressing up and fighting for a real reward."

Critic: "Exactly!"

  • 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."

Western Animation

  • 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.

  • On the DVD commentary for G.I. Joe : The Movie, it was mentioned that while Cobra retreats, the Joes withdraw.
  • Futurama 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 War is the H-Word

 iHawk: This isn't a war, it's a murder.

[Flips a switch from Maudlin to Irreverent]

iHawk: This isn't a war, it's a moider!

    • From Anthology of Interest I

 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!

  • In one Aladdin episode, Iago says "This isn't stealing! It's surplus inventory reduction!"
  • "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.
  • 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!

  • Archie's Weird Mysteries brought us this:

 Betty: Real live zombies!!?

Archie: They're not live; they're undead.

 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 reassures Chris that they won't go to jail for robbing the bank. Prison, probably, but not jail.
  • An episode of The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy 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.


Real Life

  • An example that's arguable: 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.
    • For context, the Marines had been surrounded. The Chinese forces were between them and their friendly lines, thus "advancing in a different direction."
    • Besides it was a Badass Boast so nobody cares.
  • People from Brussels have a habit of saying "non peut-etre" ("maybe no") when they actually mean "yes".
    • Asterix 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".
  • "It's not war, it's murder," said Confederate general Daniel H. Hill about the carnage of the Seven Days battles.
    • Of course, all the "it's not war, it's carnage/murder/slaughter/etc." lines are undoubtedly trying to convey the idea that "war" should be somehow "honorable" or at least the opponents should have some fighting chance or fighting CAPABILITY. So, a battle primarily killing civilians/non-combatants or a battle where it is so one-sided the opponent has no chance to even inflict damage on your side, may get this kind of line.
  • Another army story has Canadian troops during World War 2 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."
    • Strictly speaking "air support" is a type of bombing, as distinguished from interdiction and strategic bombing.
  • 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.
  • Law enforcement never says they beat somebody into submission. They "establish compliance".
  • A country club spokesman on why a specific person was refused admission thereto:

  We didn't turn him down. We didn't admit him.

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.