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Give yourself away

  • Give yourself away is an idiom that originated in the United States. An idiom is a commonly used word, group of words, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech like an often-used metaphor have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words or other parts of speech common in American slang or British slang, is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions and idiomatic language such as hit the sack, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, silver lining, back to the drawing board, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, because they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker; it is helpful to maintain a list of phrases, common expressions, colloquial terms, and popular expressions to memorize that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We will examine the meaning of the common saying give yourself away, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

     

    To give yourself away means to reveal yourself unintentionally, to expose your true feelings or intentions without meaning to. The expression is also used to mean to expose a secret about other things or people, as in to give something away or to give someone away. Related phrases are gives something away, gave something away, given something away, giving something away. The expression to give yourself away came into use in the 1870s in the United States as a slang phrase. Give yourself away may also mean to give of one’s time and treasure selflessly.

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    Examples

    And if you are caught, play dumb, know nothing, don’t give yourself away.  (National Catholic Reporter)

    Netflix documentary, American Murder: The Family Next Door tells the disturbing story of Chris Watts, who killed his wife and two young daughters – body language expert Bruce Durham examines how he gave himself away. (Mirror)

    In my landscaping days, it was the wheat nubuck Carolina’s, dyed forest green from the nonstop barrage of wet grass clippings from my lawnmower that distinguished me as someone who worked outside with their hands (the grubby T shirt also most likely gave it away). (Martha’s Vineyard Times)


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