tell tales


tell tales

noun

  1. a person who heedlessly or maliciously reveals private or confidential matters; tattler; talebearer.
  2. a thing serving to reveal or disclose something.
  3. any of various indicating or registering devices, as a time clock.
  4. Music. a gauge on an organ for indicating the air pressure.
  5. an indicator showing the position of a ship’s rudder.
  6. a row of strips hung over a track to warn train crew members on freight trains that a low bridge, tunnel, or the like is approaching.
  7. Yachting. (on a sailboat) a feather, string, or similar device, often attached to the port and starboard shrouds and to the backstay, to indicate the relative direction of the wind.
  8. Squash. a narrow piece of metal across the front wall of a court, parallel to and extending 17 inches (43.2 cm) above the base: a ball striking this is an out.

adjective

  1. that reveals or betrays what is not intended to be known: a telltale blush.
  2. giving notice or warning of something, as a mechanical device.

noun

  1. a person who tells tales about others
    1. an outward indication of something concealed
    2. (as modifier)a telltale paw mark
  2. any of various indicators or recording devices used to monitor a process, machine, etc
  3. nautical
    1. another word for dogvane
    2. one of a pair of light vanes mounted on the main shrouds of a sailing boat to indicate the apparent direction of the wind

1540s (n.), 1590s (adj.), from tell + tale, in phrase to tell a tale “relate a false or exaggerated story” (late 13c.). 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.

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