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I was answering a question at ELL and used the phrase "dead giveaway" and thought that it might not be clear to a non-native speaker. This thought lead me to wonder, where did we get that phrase. I searched a little on Google, but did not find an answer.

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marked as duplicate by FumbleFingers, MετάEd, James McLeod, Matt Эллен, Hellion Jun 14 '13 at 15:50

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phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/56/messages/494.html The trick to limiting Google searches to the origins of words and phrases is to use the word "etymology" as one of the search keywords. –  MετάEd Jun 12 '13 at 5:02
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@MMετάEd Why not put that as an answer, so that it can be accepted (if the OP so chooses), rather than leave an ever-open question as complained of at http://meta.english.stackexchange.com/questions/3965/unanswered-questions-are-s‌​tacking-up?cb=1? –  TrevorD Jun 12 '13 at 12:38
    
Thanks @MετάEd I had kind of reasoned that out myself, but wanted a reference as well. If you'll post here, your own version of the answer found at that link, I'll accept it. I appreciate you not wanting to just put a link as an actual "answer". –  TecBrat Jun 12 '13 at 12:51

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From http://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/56/messages/494.html:

"Giveaway" in the sense "inadvertent betrayal or revelation; something that gives [the game] away" is US slang dating from 1882. "Dead" has here the sense "absolute, sure", which was used in many phrases coined around that time - e.g. dead ringer, dead centre, dead earnest, dead certainty. (VSD)

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Would you have answered if OP had simply asked about the origin of "giveaway"? I think that part is General Reference, and the "dead" part is a Duplicate. –  FumbleFingers Jun 13 '13 at 0:02
    
Frankly, I do not understand your question. Did I do something wrong or inappropriate? –  rhetorician Jun 13 '13 at 0:11
    
I'd closevoted the question 5-10 minutes before you answered. I didn't see why you posted an answer to what just looked like a duplicate to me, so I'm asking whether you genuinely think that "origin of giveaway" is a valid question here. –  FumbleFingers Jun 13 '13 at 0:17
    
@FumbleFingers: Sorry; my bad (as the young people say). I wasn't conscious of your posting until just now. In other words, I wasn't dissing you (again, as the young people say--at least today). –  rhetorician Jun 13 '13 at 3:06
    
I assume that means you wouldn't have. Actually, I'd assumed (mistakenly) that you could have closevoted as a dup - but I just checked privileges and realised you couldn't have, even if you'd wanted to. But I expect you'll get there soon enough. There's only one other closevote as I write, though, so maybe others do see "origin of giveaway" as a valid question for ELU. But I'm afraid I don't. –  FumbleFingers Jun 13 '13 at 4:29

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