10 Words For Something That Appears Good But Is Actually Bad

Sometimes, things aren’t always what they seem. It might be the case that something appears good but actually turns out bad. This article will look at some of the best synonyms you can use when talking about this kind of thing.

Which Words Can Describe Something That Appears Good But Is Bad?

There are plenty of great words we can use in this case. Why not check out one of the following:

  • Specious
  • Poisoned chalice
  • Poisoned apple
  • Not all that glitters is gold
  • Wolf in sheep’s skin
  • Fool’s gold
  • Devil in disguise
  • Hollow bunny
  • Trojan horse
  • Good from far but far from good
Words For Something That Appears Good But Is Bad

The preferred version is “specious.” It’s the best one-word option you can use when talking about something that might appear good or true but turns out to be bad or false. If you want a one-word synonym, this is the best choice for such a case.


“Specious” is a great way to talk about something that is actually bad appearing good. It shows that it might be easy to fool some people into thinking it’s right, but after some closer inspection, those people will realize it’s bad.

The definition of “specious,” according to The Cambridge Dictionary, is “seeming to be right or true, but really wrong or false.”

  • He made some specious allegations, and it was easy to believe them at first.
  • This is truly the most specious thing I’ve ever seen. It really fooled me, and I’m sorry about that.
  • You’re a specious person. When you speak, you seem to confound those around you, but I know better than that.

Poisoned Chalice

“Poisoned chalice” is a great phrase we can use when talking about bad things appearing to be good. It works well because the “chalice” is supposed to be what’s “good” in this situation, and it’s supposed to attract people toward it.

However, once you reach the chalice, you will often find that it’s laced with poison. The poison is the bad thing that was not expected, so it works well.

  • This is a poisoned chalice, and I can sense the trap from a mile away.
  • It’s a poisoned chalice, and you should not trust her!
  • I don’t want to hear it. I know you’re trying to feed me from a poisoned chalice, but I will not take the bait.

Poisoned Apple

“Poisoned apple” is a variation of the one from above. We can use it to show that the “apple” is supposed to look good on the surface, but once you bite into it, it is supposed to poison you.

  • She has offered me a poisoned apple, and I know it. I can’t seem to stop myself, though.
  • I know that this is nothing more than a poisoned apple, but I can figure out why.
  • You don’t have to come at me with any more poisoned apples. I get the idea.

Not All That Glitters Is Gold

“Not all that glitters is gold” is a great idiom we can use. While “gold” typically glitters, there are plenty of other materials and minerals in the world that do as well.

The teaching point of the idiom is that you can easily come across another thing that is far less valuable or “good” compared to gold. Just because that thing glitters in the same way doesn’t make it anywhere near as good as “gold.”

  • Not all that glitters is gold, son. That’s why I want you to take what he’s about to say with a pinch of salt.
  • Not all that glitters is gold, and I don’t think you should put all of your eggs in this basket.
  • Oh, not all that glitters is gold. I wish you could have known that sooner, but alas!

Wolf In Sheep’s Skin

“Wolf in sheep’s skin” is a great idiomatic phrase we can use. Naturally, the “wolf” is the bad thing in this context. However, the “sheep” is the good thing, and the “wolf” is wearing “sheep” skin as a disguise.

The idea is that the wolf is trying to lull the rest of the sheep into a false sense of security. The phrase comes with other meanings too, but in this context, it works well to talk about bad things hiding among good things.

  • He is a wolf in sheep’s skin around these parts. It’s why so many people give him a wide berth.
  • You’re a wolf in sheep’s skin, and I’m so glad so many people are starting to realize that.
  • Do you have to be the wolf in sheep’s skin? I’m getting tired of the same old routine from you!

Fool’s Gold

“Fool’s gold” works well to show that some people will believe they have stumbled across “gold” when they really haven’t.

Since “gold” is a precious metal and is highly sought after, many people will get excited when they find it. They think they will have come across a lot of money or goods, and they will celebrate that success.

However, “fool’s gold” is aptly named because only a “fool” would believe the gold is real. It’s the name given to a real mineral called Pyrite, which has the same overall look as gold but does not have the same rarity or quality.

  • You have spoken of nothing but fool’s gold in this meeting. We do not agree with you, though.
  • He likes to spout about fool’s gold in the hopes that someone will agree with him one day.
  • I don’t like this one bit. It reminds me of fool’s gold, and I’m not happy about that.

Devil In Disguise

“Devil in disguise” works when we want to say that a person seems good but really isn’t. Usually, they’re evil like the devil, and they are putting on a “good” disguise to fool others around them.

Many “devils in disguise” do not have much thought behind their actions. They are typically manipulative people who want to get their way and find the weakest points in those with who they surround themselves.

  • Tom is a devil in disguise, and you should be careful what you say around him.
  • Oh, she is a devil in disguise. Everyone told me, but I didn’t believe them until I saw it myself.
  • You’re just a devil in disguise. I knew you couldn’t be trusted!

Hollow Bunny

“Hollow bunny” works to reference the chocolate bunnies you get around Easter time. They typically look luscious and thick, but when you bite into them, you realize that there isn’t all that much chocolate as it’s just a hollow shell.

The phrase works to show how disappointing something can be when you expect good things from it. If it turns out that the thing doesn’t do anything you expected of it, then it might be a “Hollow bunny.”

  • I found his arguments to be akin to a hollow bunny. They seemed promising, but he couldn’t deliver on them.
  • You’re quite like a hollow bunny yourself, and I don’t think many people are going to appreciate the awful things you say about them.
  • Can we talk about the hollow bunny in the room? He’s trying to trick us into agreeing with him, and that’s not okay!

Trojan Horse

“Trojan horse” works well to reference the Ancient Greek story of Troy. In the story, invaders constructed a Trojan horse as a false gift to the people, but soon broke out of the horse and started to attack the unaware city.

Nowadays, we use the phrase as a way to reference the story. It’s a metaphor that shows that something was disguised as a gift or good thing, but it doesn’t take long for it to turn into a bad thing.

  • He was my Trojan horse. I always assumed he was a good guy, but I’ve never met anyone as heartless as him.
  • You’re a Trojan horse, which is why it’s so hard for people to be around you.
  • I think this is a Trojan horse, and I think you should be careful when handling it. It’s really not worth it!

Good From Far But Far From Good

“Good from far but far from good” is a great idiomatic and rhythmic phrase we can use. It means that something is good when you don’t study it, but bad as soon as you realize what it is.

We can break the idiom down into its parts to help you understand it.

“Good from far” means that we have not spent a great deal of time studying whatever the thing is. Therefore, we might mistakenly believe it to be a “good” thing.

“Far from good” then shows the opposite, which implies that we no longer think it’s a good thing to be around. This usually only happens once you’ve had more time to find out about the finer details of the thing.

  • Trust me; he’s one of those good from far but far from good types. Stay away from him.
  • That job offer is good from far but far from good. It’s not worth your time.
  • It’s good from far but far from good as far as restaurants go. I wouldn’t go near there again!