sail under false colours

sail under false colors

To operate using or under the guise of false pretenses, so as to deceive someone or to hide one's true nature or intentions. (An allusion to the identifying flags of a ship.) Tim thought he could just put on fancy clothes and rub elbows with the upper crust that Janet's family socialized with, but everyone at the party knew he was sailing under false colors. I don't want to be accused of sailing under false colors, so let me say that I'm being paid to give a review of this product today.
See also: color, false, sail
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

sail under false colors

 
1. Lit. to sail with false identification. (Pirates often sailed under the national flag of the ship they planned on attacking.) The ship, sailing under false colors, suddenly started to pursue our ship. Bluebeard the pirate was known for sailing under false colors.
2. Fig. to function deceptively. You are not who you seem to be. You are sailing under false colors. Tom was sailing under false colors and finally got found out.
See also: color, false, sail
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

sail under false colors

see under false colors.
See also: color, false, sail
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.

sail under false colours

disguise your true nature or intentions.
See also: colour, false, sail
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
See also:
References in classic literature ?
'You sail under false colours from beginning to end,' he said.