So much of what goes wrong with human behavior centers on this idea.

Does Mandarin Chinese have the concept of what we call "plausible deniability"? If so, what is the HanZi for it? If not, is there a simple way to explain it in English (with references to Chinese culture) that a native Mandarin speaker could relate to?


With respect to Kevman's comment about needing more context, I am asking about "plausible deniability" in the context of some mischievous or malicious behavior done to another person in such a way that it's impractical to demonstrate that the motive is malicious; such behavior would have "plausible deniability" because it's easy to hide the true intent of the act.Note 1

Note 1 It's also worth noting that behavior which is plausibly deniable is not automatically mischievous simply because motives are opaque.

  • Is it OK to assume it's law terminology?
    – Kevman
    Commented Apr 25, 2017 at 1:42
  • I am not really looking for a legal term... just a succinct way to communicate a certain class of behavior towards others. I won't complain if it's a legal term though Commented Apr 25, 2017 at 1:49

3 Answers 3


According to this article

在经济学领域,有一个概念叫既可以把它理解为‘合理推诿’(Plausible deniability),也可以直观理解为“事后推卸责任的可能性”。

the exact translation of plausible deniability is 合理推诿. It can also be explained by 事后推卸责任的可能性 (the possibility of shirking responsibility after something bad happens).


Plausible: can be believed: 似乎有理的 deniability: can be denied: 可否定

Plausible deniability: If an act or transgression can be denied such that the transgressor is not held responsible for it, or blamed for the negative consequences, then such an act has 'plausible deniability. "Quick, hide the evidence!"

Sounds like Sean Spicer and all his predecessors! "At no time did we ...."

Maybe: plausible deniability: a believable lie: 令人相信的谎言

or : 诡辩轮

  • It should be 诡辩. I would also translate "a believable lie" as "能令人相信的谎言". The added "能" well translates the suffix "-able"
    – Anthony
    Commented Apr 25, 2017 at 0:11
  • @pedroski after editing my answer do you have more input on which phrase is most appropriate? Commented Apr 25, 2017 at 1:41

"plausible deniability" is used in many areas. In Economics, like what @Anthony said, called 合理推诿。 But in Computer Science, there's a "plausible deniability" in encryption area. I get your point and there's no such direct Chinese translation.

So I would say No Chinese word(Hanzis) perfectly matches with this terminology("plausible deniability").

But it's translatable. The corresponding Chinese word will depend on the scenario/field.

Edit: If "plausible deniability" is act as a law terminology. It would be "不可归责性".

Ref: <<重大过失理论的构建>> - 叶名怡

  • Good point about context, I edited my question with more information Commented Apr 25, 2017 at 1:37
  • @MikePennington Yes. There's no exact terminology in Chinese that commonly agreed.
    – Kevman
    Commented Apr 25, 2017 at 1:40
  • @MikePennington Eh...I think this is relevant with Mao or Maoist. Because the way of think is different. Besides, in ancient time Chinese people do not care about the idea of "take it account". There's a famous story “wikiwand.com/zh-hans/%E8%8E%AB%E9%A0%88%E6%9C%89” 莫须有. At that time you could penalize a 5 * General to death as long as the Emperor allows to.
    – Kevman
    Commented Apr 25, 2017 at 1:57

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