tell on


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Related to tell on: tell off

tell on someone

to report someone's bad behavior; to tattle on someone. If you do that again, I'll tell on you! Please don't tell on me. I'm in enough trouble as it is.
See also: on, tell

tell someone on someone

to tattle to someone about someone. I'm going to tell your mother on you! I'll tell the teacher on you!
See also: on, tell

tell on somebody

to give information about bad behavior to someone in authority None of his friends told on Louie, not even when he slipped live grasshoppers into a mailbox.
See also: on, tell

tell on

Tattle on, inform on, as in Marjorie said she'd tell on him if he pulled her hair again. This seemingly modern term appeared in a 1539 translation of the Bible (I Samuel 27:11): "David saved neither man nor woman ... for fear (said he) lest they should tell on us."
See also: on, tell

tell on

v.
1. To inform some authority that someone has behaved badly or illegally: The janitor told the teacher on me for writing on the desk. We didn't want to tell on our friends for shoplifting. I promised not to tell on my brother for eating cookies before dinner.
2. To have an effect or impact on someone or something: The stress of working long hours began to tell on the store's owner.
See also: on, tell