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Related to told: all told, told off
An exclamation of surprised or incredulous curiosity, sometimes (but not necessarily) a literal prompt for the speaker to tell more. You're getting a divorce? Do tell!
I told you so!
I warned you that this would happen; I told you things would turn out this way. A: "That car I bought online turned out to be a complete piece of junk!" B: "See? I told you so!"
See also: told
tell a (little) white lie
To tell a seemingly small, insignificant, or harmless lie, often presumably in order not to offend or upset someone. I knew Jenny would be upset if she knew I didn't want go to the movies with her tomorrow, so I just told her a white lie about having to take care of my elderly grandmother. Don't get into the habit of telling little white lies, or, pretty soon, you'll start telling big, fat, ugly ones.
To (profess to) anticipate, and inform about, future outcomes or see what future events will take place. There's this old lady in the apartment next to mine who tells fortunes for ten bucks. I never go in for stuff like that, but I'll admit that I'm a bit curious.
tell (someone) what's what
To inform someone of the true facts or most fundamental information (about someone or something). After putting it off for a week, Sarah finally told Jane what's what and ended their relationship. You're so naïve about the way you think this business operates, so allow me to finally tell you what's what.
(if the) truth be told
I must admit; to be honest; in actuality. Truth be told, even though I majored in English literature, I've never read anything by Hemingway! I know I said I wanted to go out to the bars tonight, but if the truth be told, I'd rather just stay home and watch a movie.
(one's) little finger told (one) that
A phrase used when the speaker has learned something by unconventional means. Pain in one's fingers was once regarded as an indicator of things to come. Oh dear, I just knew that they were going to break up this weekend—my little finger told me that.
a little bird told me
A phrase used when one does not want to reveal the source of the information that one is about to share or has shared. Did you hear that Mark is planning to propose to Sarah soon? Yes, a little bird told me.
tell (one) where to shove it
An expression of frustration or anger. The phrase encourages the person in question to shove something up their buttocks. If she assigns me one more project, I'm going to tell her where to shove it! A: "How did you end up in jail?" B: "Well, the officer tried to give me a parking ticket, and I told him where to shove it."
In total. This phrase can be applied to numerical sums or to the collective aspects of something. I made a lot in tips this week—$300 all told. Yeah, it rained a lot during our vacation, but all told we had a great time.
To share secrets, often knowing that doing so will cause problems for someone else. Here's a tip: don't tell tales about your co-workers if you want to have any friends here.
tell (one) where to get off
An expression of frustration or anger. If she assigns me one more project, I'm going to tell her where to get off! A: "How did you end up in jail?" B: "Well, the officer tried to give me a parking ticket, and I told him where to get off."
kiss and tell
1. To tell others about a sexual encounter, usually in order to brag about it. Most girls avoid Johnny because they know he loves to kiss and tell so all his buddies think he's a player.
2. By extension, to tell others about something that was supposed to remain private between the teller and another party, usually in order to gossip or brag about it. To be honest, I try not to include Jane in these meetings because she has a tendency to kiss and tell when she's privy to sensitive details.
Fig. totaled up; including all parts. All told, he earned about $700 last week. All told, he has many fine characteristics.
if I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times
Fig. an expression that introduces a scolding, usually to a child. Mother: If I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times, don't leave your clothes in a pile on the floor! Bill: Sorry. "If I've toldyou once, I've told you a thousand times, keep out of my study!" yelled Bob.
kiss and tell
Fig. to participate in something secret and private, and then tell other people about it. (In actual use, it usually refers to a person of the opposite sex even when it does not refer to actual kissing.) The project was supposed to be a secret between Jane and me, but she spread it all around. I didn't think she was the type to kiss and tell. I am willing to discuss it with you, but only if you promise not to kiss and tell. the kiss of death Fig. an act that puts an end to someone or something. The mayor's veto was the kiss of death for the new law. Fainting on stage was the kiss of death for my acting career.
little bird told me
Fig. a way of indicating that you do not want to reveal who told you something. (Sometimes used playfully, when you think that the person you are addressing knows or can guess who was the source of your information.) Jill: Thank you for the beautiful present! How did you know I wanted a green silk scarf? Jane: A little bird told me. Bill: How did you find out it was my birthday? Jane: A little bird told me.
Added up, in summation, as in The ferry will hold 80 passengers all told, or All told, his proposal makes some good points. This idiom, first recorded in 1850, uses the verb tell in the sense of "count."
A phrase used to express surprise about something, as in Jane's getting married again? Do tell. This expression does not necessarily ask the speaker to provide more details but merely expresses one's astonishment. [Colloquial; first half of 1800] For a synonym, see you don't say.
I told you so
I warned you in advance, especially of a bad outcome. For example, It's too bad your guests didn't get along with each other, but remember, I told you so .
See also: told
kiss and tell
Betray a confidence, as in A real lady doesn't kiss and tell. This idiom originally alluded to betraying an amorous or sexual intimacy. First recorded in 1695, it is still so used, as well as more loosely, as in Don't ask how I voted; I don't kiss and tell.
little bird told one, a
A source one cannot or will not identify gave this information, as in How did you learn they were getting a divorce?-Oh, a little bird told me. Versions of this idiom date from ancient times and appear in numerous proverb collections.
Divulge secrets, as in Don't trust him; he's apt to tell tales. This expression was first recorded about 1350. A variant, tell tales out of school, first recorded in 1530, presumably alluded to schoolchildren gossiping but was soon broadened to revealing secret or private information. Both may be obsolescent.
a little bird told meOLD-FASHIONED
If you say a little bird told me a piece of information, you mean that you will not tell someone how you found out about it or who told it to you. Incidentally, a little bird tells me that your birthday's coming up.
If someone tells tales, they tell someone in authority about something bad or wrong that someone else has done. She had no right to tell tales to his mother! They try to get convicted criminals to tell tales on their mates in return for cuts in their own sentences. Note: This expression is used to show disapproval.
a little bird told meused as a teasing way of saying that you do not intend to divulge how you came to know something.
kiss and tellrecount your sexual exploits, especially to the media concerning a famous person. chiefly derogatory
tell tales (out of school)gossip about or reveal another person's secrets, wrong-doings, or faults.
As telling tales to school authorities is a terrible offence in the eyes of schoolchildren, this expression is often used in the context of declining to supply information or gossip.
1991 Mark Tully No Full Stops in India Indira trusted me throughout her life, and just because she's dead it's not right that I should break that trust and tell tales about her.
ˌkiss and ˈtella way of referring to somebody talking publicly, usually for money, about a past sexual relationship with somebody famous: Despite all the money the tabloids were offering for her story, she was determined not to kiss and tell.
a little ˈbird told me (that...)(spoken) I have heard about something but I do not want to say who told me: A little bird told me you might be applying for another job. Is that true? ♢ ‘How did you know I was getting married?’ ‘Oh, a little bird told me.’
tell ˈtales (about somebody/something)(British English) tell somebody, especially somebody in authority, that another person has done something wrong: How did the boss know that I was late for work this morning? I think somebody’s been telling tales about me.
all ˈtold(used with numbers) with everything/everyone included: So far there have been fourteen arrests all told.
if (the) ˌtruth be ˈknown/ˈtoldused to tell somebody the true facts about a situation, especially when these are not known by other people: None of the students really liked the new teacher. In fact, if the truth be told, everyone was rather afraid of him.
sent. Is that so? (A disinterested way of holding up one end of a conversation.) So, you’re a dentist. Do tell.
if I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times
phr. I know I have told you many, many times. If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times, don’t lean back in that chair.
With everything considered; in all: All told, we won 100 games.