Pay Lip Service – Idiom, Origin & Meaning

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

Have you ever thought about what it means to pay lip service to something? Is it like paying your coffee bill? Or maybe it’s like giving someone a compliment about their lips? Not quite. But don’t worry, I won’t leave you hanging. Let’s break down what this idiom is all about, shall we?

Decoding the Idiom Pay Lip Service

Pay Lip Service Idiom Origin Meaning

When someone pays lip service to a cause, an idea or even another person, it means they express verbal agreement or support but don’t actually do anything to show or implement that support. They’re all talk, and no action, as the saying goes. It’s like that ex-boyfriend who said he would change but never did. He was all lip service!

Looking into the Origin of Pay Lip Service

Pay Lip Service Ngram
Pay lip service usage trend.

The term lip service came from religious contexts, where it was used to describe prayers that were said out loud but not felt in the heart. The phrase pay lip service began to be used in the 17th century in this context and has since evolved to encompass obvious insincere support or hollow promises in various situations.

Pay Lip Service Synonyms

Shake up your vocabulary with these alternative expressions to pay lip service. They can help break up repetitiveness in your writing.

  • Empty words
  • Hollow support
  • Insincere agreement
  • Platitudes
  • All talk
  • Empty promises

Using Pay Lip Service in a Sentence

Pay Lip Service Idiom Origin Meaning 1

Need to incorporate the phrase pay lip service into your dialogues? Here are some great examples showing you just how to do that.

  • Tons of politicians pay lip service to environmental causes during their campaigns but fail to take action once elected, and people are beginning to notice.
  • She claims to support gender equality, but her actions show that she only pays lip service to the cause and doesn’t actually do anything to support it.
  • Our company paid lip service to the idea of employee wellness but did nothing to improve working conditions or even give paid leave for mental health.
  • So many companies pay lip service to diversity and inclusion, but it’s almost always a PR stunt.
  • My manager always pays lip service to the idea of work-life balance but then piles on extra work for me over the weekend.
  • He paid lip service to the concept of self-improvement but never actually took the time for self-improvement.
  • I hate that the store pays lip service to the importance of customer feedback, but they don’t actually implement any changes based on the suggestions they receive.
  • I see authors always paying lip service to other authors, claiming we need to support one another, but I never see action being taken.

Never Pay for Lip Service

That’s another wrap on one more grammar guide! I hope my explanation and tips helped you get a handle on what this idiom and insincere expression really means. Play around and see how you can apply it to conversations in your life! Then check out my guides on other popular idioms.