show (one's) (true) colors

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show (one's) (true) colors

To reveal what one truly believes, thinks, or wants; to act in accordance with one's real personality, temperament, or disposition. Dave said all along that he only wanted this deal because it was in the company's best interest, but he showed his true colors once he realized 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 colors.
See also: color, show
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

show one's (true) colors

Fig. to show what one is really like or what one is really thinking. Whose side are you on, John? Come on. Show your colors. It's hard to tell what Mary is thinking. She never shows her true colors.
See also: color, show
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

show one's colors

See also: color, show

show one's true colors

Reveal oneself as one really is, as in We always thought he was completely honest, but he showed his true colors when he tried to use a stolen credit card . This expression alludes to the antonym, false colors, that is, sailing under a flag other than one's own. [Late 1700s]
See also: color, show, true
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.

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.
See also: colour, show, true
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

show your (true) colours

reveal your real character or intentions, especially when these are disreputable or dishonourable.
See also: colour, show
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

show one's true colors, to

To reveal oneself frankly; to admit one’s genuine opinions or character. This term, the converse of sail under false colors, similarly alludes to the practice of deceiving the enemy by flying a friendly flag. However, it also was applied to cosmetics used to conceal or enhance a complexion. Thus Thomas Dekker wrote (A Description of a Lady by Her Lover, ca. 1632), “The reason why fond women love to buy Adulterate complexion: here ’tis read,—False colours last after the true be dead.” The metaphor was used for one’s genuine character by numerous writers, Dickens among them: “He didn’t venture to come out in his true colours” (The Old Curiosity Shop, 1840).
See also: show, to, true
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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