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Language tip of the week: tell someone something that is secret

Learn English with Macmillan DictionaryIn this weekly post, we bring more useful content from the Macmillan Dictionary to English language learners. In this series of language tips to accompany the Real Vocabulary theme we look at how you can expand your vocabulary in English by using different words and expressions instead of core vocabulary items.

This week’s tip looks at words and phrases you can use instead of tell to talk about telling someone something that is secret.



reveal to let something that was secret become known. Reveal is mainly used in written English:
He refused to reveal the contents of the letter. ♦ They revealed that they are expecting their first child in the autumn. 
leak to tell official or secret information to the public or journalists:
They are trying to find out who leaked the story. ♦ A junior official had leaked the information to the press.
confide to tell someone something that is secret or private, especially because you want their advice or support:
He confided his doubts to me. ♦ She confided to friends that she was scared of her mother.
let (it) slip to tell someone something secret by mistake:
He let it slip that they intended to move to Canada. ♦ She let slip some very interesting information. 

There are several informal expressions that you can use for saying that someone has told something that should have been kept secret:
spill the beans      let the cat out of the bag      give the game away

Here are some informal phrases you can use to tell someone not to do this:
promise not to tell      keep it under your hat         keep it to yourself
keep mum/keep schtum     don’t say a word

Did you know that Macmillan Dictionary includes a full thesaurus? This page lists more ways to say ‘reveal‘.

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Liz Potter

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