idiom: to pull someone’s leg

Today is Sunday, and that means it’s time for another idiom. Today the expression I want to teach you is to “pull someone’s leg”. This is used to talk about one person telling a lie to another person as a joke. For example:

My girlfriend told me she was pregnant, but she was just pulling my leg.

A: Guess what! I’m moving to China next month!

B: Is that really true or are you pulling my leg?


A: Bill told me he used to date Julia Roberts.

B: You believed him? I’m pretty sure he was just pulling your leg.


A: Do you really work for NASA?

B: No, I was just pulling your leg. I’m really an accountant at ABC Company.

So, with this expression, it’s important that you only say “leg” without an S. If you say, “pulling my legs”, it will sound very strange. Also, it’s very common to put the word “just” in front of this expression.

The idea of lying to someone as a joke may be strange to people from certain cultures, but it is quite a normal part of humor among many English speakers.


  1. asna Said:

    good .itreally helps me a lot.

  2. az Said:

    This is really interesting since we have exactly the same expression with a completely different meaning in Japanese.
    Maybe you know this but to pull someone’s leg in Japanese means to cause trouble. For example, if a soccer team always loses because of errors made by the same player, you can say he is “pulling the team’s leg (ashi wo hipparu).” I think Japanese learners of English must take extra care not to misunderstand the meaning of the English version!

    • Thank you for your comment. I didn’t know about the Japanese expression so it’s really interesting for me too. I asked one of my friends about that and he told me that the Japanese idiom “to pull the team’s leg” would mean that the player is dragging the team down because of the bad skills of the one player. I agree with you that Japanese students must be careful with this expression!

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