show one's true colors

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To reveal how one really is, as opposed to how one has been portrayed.

Etymology:

  • Nautical origin. The word 'colors' refers to the flag or ensign which every ship is obliged to fly at sea. It was once a common deception of pirates to 'sail under false colours' and fly a friendly flag in order to get within close range of potential targets without exciting suspicion. Only when the pirate ship reached close quarters would it unfurl its 'true colours'.
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Submitted on September 01, 2009

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Nearby phrases

Some more phrases from our dictionary similar to show one's true colors

How to pronounce this phrase?

  1. Alex
    Alex
    US English
    Daniel
    Daniel
    British
    Karen
    Karen
    Australian
    Veena
    Veena
    Indian

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    "show one's true colors." Phrases.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 22 Oct. 2020. <https://www.phrases.com/phrase/show-one's-true-colors_6797>.

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