Common Idioms To Boost Your IELTS Score – Topic: Deception


blow the whistle on someone/something

If you blow the whistle on something dishonest or illegal, or on someone who is doing something dishonest or illegal, you tell the authorities about them because you feel strongly that what they are doing is wrong.

NOTE: In games such as football, the referee blows a whistle to stop play when a player has committed a foul (= an act that is not allowed).

Members of coastal communities are being asked to blow the whistle on activities that damage the marine environment.

cover your tracks

If someone covers their tracks, they hide or destroy evidence of what they have done or where they have been.

NOTE: Tracks here mean footprints.

He was a very clever man who never took a chance, a man who always covered his tracks.

be economical with the truth

If someone is economical with the truth, they deceive people by not telling them the whole truth about something.

When they insisted that no changes had been made to the original plan, his team was being economical with the truth.

give the game away

If someone or something gives the game away, they reveal something which someone had been trying to keep secret.

Eric had intended to make his announcement in an article in The Times but the paper gave the game away by advertising the article a week before publishing.

go behind someone’s back

If someone goes behind your back, they do something secretly or without your permission.

Do you think I wouldn’t know if you went behind my back?

go through the motions

If you go through the motions, you do something that you have to do or are expected to do, but without any real effort or enthusiasm.

Alex didn’t really care about his job anymore, he was just going through the motions.

a hidden agenda

if someone has a hidden agenda, they are secretly trying to achieve something while they appear to be doing something else.

NOTE: An agenda is a list of things that need to be dealt with, for example at a meeting.

The unions fear these tactics are part of a hidden agenda to reduce pay and conditions throughout the company.

keep something under your hat

If you keep something under your hat, you do not tell anyone else about it. [INFORMAL]

NOTE: This was a slogan used to promote security in Britain during the Second World War.

Very few people know, so keep it under your hat.

lead someone up the garden path

If someone leads you up the garden path, they deceive you by making you believe something which is not true.

He led me up the garden path. He said their relationship was over but now I know that it wasn’t.

lie through your teeth

If someone lies through their teeth, they tell obvious lies and do not seem to be embarrassed about this.

We ought to be angry that public officials lie through their teeth.

on the fiddle

If someone is on the fiddle, they are getting money dishonestly, for example by cheating with the accounts at work. [BRITISH]

A postman earning only £136 a week drove around in a Porsche for six months before his bosses realized he was on the fiddle.

pull someone’s leg

If you pull someone’s leg, you tease them about something, for example by telling them something which is not true.

NOTE: There are two possible explanations for this expression, although there is no proof for either. One suggestion is that in the past, when someone was being hanged, their friends or family sometimes pulled their legs hard so that they died more quickly and suffered less. Alternatively, the expression may refer to thieves tripping people up before they robbed them.

Tracey hasn’t really got a new job in New York. She was just pulling your leg.

sweep something under the carpet

If you sweep a problem under the carpet, you try to hide it and forget about it. [BRITISH]

People often hope that if they sweep something under the carpet the problem will go away, but that is not the case.

NOTE: You can also use verbs such as brush and push instead of sweep.

The problem has been brushed under the carpet for decades.

a white lie

If you tell a white lie, you say something which is untrue, often in order to protect someone or to avoid upsetting someone.

I said she looked nice, thinking it kinder to tell a white lie.


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