don't ask, don't tell


Also found in: Acronyms.

don't ask, don't tell

1. A military policy of the United States from 1994–2011 that barred openly gay, lesbian, or bisexual personnel from serving in the military, but which also barred discrimination against those who kept their sexuality a secret. Often capitalized in this usage. Because of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, my uncle was forced to keep his relationship with his partner a secret for the entirety of his 11 years in the US Army.
2. Used by extension to describe any such policy of prohibiting or discouraging a specific behavior, belief, ideology, etc., while simultaneously disallowing active investigations into or discrimination against those who subscribe to them privately. Sometimes used humorously or sarcastically. A: "Does the company care if I use our competitor's software on my computers at home?" B: "I don't know how the upper-ups might feel, but my policy has always been don't ask, don't tell." When it comes to the private details of my romantic relationships, my parents have always taken a don't-ask-don't-tell approach with me.
See also: tell
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
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