show (one's) (true) colours(redirected from show their colours)
show (one's) (true) colours
To reveal what one really believes, thinks, or wants; to act in accordance with one's real personality, character, or disposition. Primarily heard in UK. Dave said all along that he only wanted this deal because it was in the company's best interest, but he showed his true colours once he realised that he wouldn't get any special commission for his efforts. It's only in times of crisis that your friends will really show their colours.
show your true colours
COMMON If someone shows their true colours, they show their real character, often when this is bad. Note: A ship's colours are its national flag. Someone I had trusted now showed her true colours. Note: Verbs such as declare and reveal are sometimes used instead of show. Three months into the relationship, Rogers began to reveal his true colours. Note: You can also see someone in their true colours. The children started seeing him in his true colours for the first. Note: Once a pirate ship had got close to a treasure ship by `sailing under false colours', it then revealed its true identity by raising its own flag.