tell tales


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Legal, Encyclopedia.
Related to tell tales: tell tales out of school

tell tales

To share secrets, often knowing that doing so will cause problems for someone else. Here's a tip: don't tell tales about your co-workers if you want to have any friends here.
See also: tales, tell

tell tales

Divulge secrets, as in Don't trust him; he's apt to tell tales. This expression was first recorded about 1350. A variant, tell tales out of school, first recorded in 1530, presumably alluded to schoolchildren gossiping but was soon broadened to revealing secret or private information. Both may be obsolescent.
See also: tales, tell

tell tales

If someone tells tales, they tell someone in authority about something bad or wrong that someone else has done. She had no right to tell tales to his mother! They try to get convicted criminals to tell tales on their mates in return for cuts in their own sentences. Note: This expression is used to show disapproval.
See also: tales, tell

tell tales (out of school)

gossip about or reveal another person's secrets, wrong-doings, or faults.
As telling tales to school authorities is a terrible offence in the eyes of schoolchildren, this expression is often used in the context of declining to supply information or gossip.
1991 Mark Tully No Full Stops in India Indira trusted me throughout her life, and just because she's dead it's not right that I should break that trust and tell tales about her.
See also: tales, tell

tell ˈtales (about somebody/something)

(British English) tell somebody, especially somebody in authority, that another person has done something wrong: How did the boss know that I was late for work this morning? I think somebody’s been telling tales about me.
See also: tales, tell
References in periodicals archive ?
Tell Tale Hearts, together with London Talents, will be heading to India in February.
Local historians are still piecing together the house's rich history, but neighbors tell tales of a wealthy sheik who built the castle for his daughter, with no expense spared.
Dead men do tell tales in ``Tru Calling,'' but you quickly see why it's preferable they don't.
Locals tell tales of Intrawest conducting studies to determine the exact spots where the midday sun strikes brightest and warmest, so as to position benches where people are most likely to linger.
Shards of broken pottery and bits of seashells tell tales of an ancient Chumash village situated on what is now a Saticoy orchard.
Merbs' work has helped solve murders and tell tales about people long since dead.
Dead men - or at least their tombstones - do tell tales.