White lies are minor lies which could be considered to be harmless, or even beneficial, in the long term. White lies are also considered to be used for greater good. A common version of a white lie is to tell only part of the truth, therefore not be suspected of lying, yet also conceal something else, in order to avoid awkward questions.
The cliché "All is fair in love and war" finds justification for lies used to gain advantage in these situations. Sun Tzu declared that "All warfare is based on deception." Machiavelli advised in The Prince "never to attempt to win by force what can be won by deception," and Thomas Hobbes wrote in Leviathan: "In war, force and fraud are the two cardinal virtues."
The capacity to lie has also been claimed to be possessed by non-humans in language studies with great apes. Even Koko, the gorilla made famous for learning American Sign Language has been caught red-handed. After tearing a steel sink from the wall in the middle of a tantrum, she signed to her handlers that a cat did it, while she pointed to her kitten. It is unclear if this was a joke or a genuine attempt at blaming her tiny pet. Deceptive body language, such as feints that mislead as to the intended direction of attack or flight, is observed in many species including wolves. A mother bird deceives when it pretends to have a broken wing to divert the attention of a perceived predator—including unwitting humans—from the eggs in its nest to itself, most notably the killdeer.