lay cards on the table
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Related to lay cards on the table: lay on the line
lay (one's) cards on the table
To reveal something that one has kept hidden, such as one's motives, intentions, opinion, etc.; to be very candid. A reference to a player in a card game revealing the cards that they were holding. You deserve honesty, so I'm going to lay my cards on the table. I can't offer you this job, but we may have another position that you'd be good for. Brian says he starts every relationship by laying his cards on the table—that way there's no secrets.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
lay one's cards on the tableand put one's cards on the table
Fig. to be very candid about one's position on some issue. (Alludes to laying playing cards on the table, face up, showing the cards.) All right. Let's lay our cards on the table and speak very candidly about this matter. It's time we put our cards on the table and spoke honestly. lay one's hands on someone, something, or an animal Go to put one's hands on someone, something, or an animal. lay (oneself) down to lie down. Just lay yourself down there and try to sleep. I'll lay myself down here for just a few minutes.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
cards on the table, to lay/put one's
To be completely candid, to hide nothing. The term comes from numerous card games in which the players must at some point turn their cards faceup and show their hands. The expression was transferred to a more general meaning in the late sixteenth century.
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer