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What does "tell us what you really think" mean? It seems to be used when someone is telling us what they really think...

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up vote 13 down vote accepted

The phrase is often used ironically as a reaction to a strongly-expressed opinion.

A non-ironic use, to draw out a stronger opinion:

"So, what do you think of the website's new layout?"

"Oh, it's okay..."

"Come on, even I know there are a few mistakes in there; tell us what you really think."

An ironic use, as a reaction to a strong opinion:

"I hate him, I never want to see him again, and I hope he catches a terrible disease!"

"But tell us what you really think about him, Sally."

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+1 for inclusion of ironic use. – MikeS Oct 24 '13 at 23:01

It might be used when it is apparent that speakers are not expressing their true feelings. Tell us what you really think is an encouragment to them be honest about them.

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3  
But today in the US it is often employed sarcastically when someone expresses an opinion more forcibly than is normal in the context. – StoneyB Oct 24 '13 at 19:32
2  
Being across the other side of the Atlantic, I didn't know that. But there must be many expressions that can be used sarcastically in this way. – Barrie England Oct 24 '13 at 19:33
    
Oh, yes--practically anything. That one's just become commonplace in the last ten years or so. – StoneyB Oct 24 '13 at 20:41

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