What does “pay lip service” mean?

The phrase “pay lip service” is used when referring to people who in public say and use words to support a particular position or idea, but in private do not actually support those words. So, in public a politician may say that he supports capitalism or democracy, but the things he actually does – the actions he takes – show that he does not actually support capitalism or democracy. This politician can be said to be “paying lip service” to the ideas of capitalism and democracy to please the people that will vote for him. The word “lip” is used because the lips are used to create words.

Here’s an example of it’s usage:

“Pay Lip Service” In a Sentence

"Our CEO pays lip service to the idea of making great products,
but really he just wants to make as much money for himself
as he can."

Hiring? Job Hunting? Post a JOB or your RESUME on our JOB BOARD >>

Subscribe to our newsletter for more free interview questions.