give away

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give (oneself) away

To reveal or make known—usually unintentionally—something about oneself, such as one's actions, intentions, ideas, guilt, etc. Margaret had been embezzling money from the corporate account for years, but she finally gave herself away when she claimed her two-month trip to Paris as a business expense. I wanted my acceptance to Harvard to be a surprise, but I gave myself away when I mentioned about moving in the autumn.
See also: away, give

give away

1. To give something (to someone) for free; to donate something (to someone). In each usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "give" and "away." I wish I hadn't given away all my old video games. I'd love to play through them all again! She's been giving money away to her friends and family ever since she won the lottery. Oh, I gave those recipe books away to Aunt Rosie. She's more interested in them than I ever was.
2. To yield something for far less than it is worth. In this usage, a noun or pronoun is used between "give" and "away." How could you just give away my cleats for $5 at the yard sale? I could have gotten good money for them on eBay! If I accept this offer, I'm basically giving the house away. No, we're going to give them a counteroffer of a much more reasonable price.
3. To relinquish something; to willingly give up control of something. I would think long and hard before you give away your controlling stake in the company. Everyone claims they care about their privacy, but they've been more than willing to give it away for the sake of using social media.
4. To present the bride to the bridegroom during their marriage ceremony. My father sadly passed away two years ago, so my uncle agreed to give me away at my wedding. I went through intense physiotherapy so that I would be able to walk down the aisle and give away my daughter.
5. To reveal or make known some secret or hidden aspect of someone, something, or oneself. I'm terrible at keeping secrets. My face goes beet red and gives me away every time. I have to be careful during interviews so I don't give away the plot to the movie. Margaret had been embezzling money from the corporate account for years, but she finally gave herself away when she claimed her two-month trip to Paris as a business expense.
6. To be disadvantaged by some variable, especially weight, height, or time, during a competition. The young junior wrestler had to fill in the 189-pound spot, giving away 15 pounds to his opponent. The cyclist had already given nearly 20 minutes away at the start of the race, but he still managed to catch up to the leader of the race in the final stretch. The new striker gave away four inches to the other team's defender, but has still managed to send a header past him and into the net.
7. To allow something to be taken or used as an advantage by one's opponent. Our defense gave away three goals in the first quarter, so we were fighting an uphill battle for the entire rest of the game. They're never going to win if they keep giving so many penalties away.
See also: away, give


1. Something that reveals or makes something else known, usually a secret. A: "Nothing happened, I swear!" B: "Yeah, right. That scared look on your face is a total giveaway." Your shoes are totally sticking out of the blankets! That's a dead giveaway that you're planning on sneaking out as soon as Mom says good night to us.
2. A contest in which a particular prize is awarded. Did you sign up for that iPad giveaway? The radio station is having another giveaway—free tickets to the first 15 callers!
3. A promotional event in which something is given to people for free. Our local NBA team always has the best giveaways. Look at this cool backpack I got at the last game! What kinds of giveaways should we offer this season?
4. An item given to someone for free. Giveaways like free tickets to concerts are customary for that radio station.
5. In ice hockey, to accidentally yield the puck to the opposing team, as by making a mistake. That was a bad giveaway, Zack. You just blindly threw the puck out in front of our own net, and they capitalized on it!
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

give someone or something away

to reveal a secret about someone or something. I thought no one knew where I was, but my loud breathing gave me away. We know that Billy ate the cherry pie. The cherry juice on his shirt gave him away. I had planned a surprise, but John gave away my secret.
See also: away, give

give someone away

 (to someone)
1. Fig. [for the bride's father] to give the bride away to the groom. (Customarily done just prior to the actual marriage ceremony.) Mr. Franklin gave Amy away to Terry just as he had done in the rehearsal. He was reluctant to give his daughter away.
2. Fig. to reveal something secret about someone to someone else. Please don't give me away. I don't want anyone to know my plans. Alice did everything she could to keep from giving herself away.
See also: away, give

give something away

 (to someone)
1. to donate to, or bestow something upon, someone. I gave the old clothing away to Tom. I gave away my coat to Tom.
2. to tell a secret to someone. Please don't give the surprise away to anyone. Don't give away my secret.
3. to reveal the answer to a question, riddle, or problem to someone. Don't give the answer away to them! Don't give away the answer!
See also: away, give
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

give away

1. Make a gift of, bestow, as in I decided to give away all my plants. [c. 1400]
2. Present a bride to the groom in a marriage ceremony, as in Her father gave Karen away. [c. 1700]
3. Reveal or make something known, often unintentionally; also, betray or expose someone. For example, She gave away her true feelings, or He gave away his accomplices. This idiom is sometimes put as give oneself away, as in If you don't want the family to know about your gambling, don't give yourself away by spending your winnings . [Late 1800s]
See also: away, give
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

give away

1. To relinquish something; give something to another: The store is giving away free samples of cheese. I gave my old clothes away to charity.
2. To present a bride to her bridegroom at a wedding ceremony: Very often, the father gives away the bride. I gave my daughter away at her wedding.
3. To reveal something or make something known, often accidentally; divulge something: The preview gave away the film's surprise ending. The tone of the teacher's voice gave the answer away.
4. To betray someone: I tried to pass for a local resident, but my accent gave me away.
See also: away, give
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


n. something that reveals a fact that was meant to be concealed. (Often with dead.) The way he was walking was a giveaway to the fact that he was the one who was injured.
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
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