What words could I use to describe the event of having successfully and completely "read" or understood someone's personality, upon first meeting that someone?

  • Welcome, Matt. Take a look at our guidelines for word requests. So we can give you better answers, can you add some more information about how you want to use this word or phrase, such as an example sentence?
    – aedia λ
    Aug 8 '14 at 21:36
  • To clarify, here's an example of how I'd like to use this: Woman meets man. He asks her something out of the ordinary, but she'd been expecting exactly that sort of question, from him, despite having just met him. She smiles, because she's -insert expression here-.
    – Matt
    Aug 8 '14 at 21:49
  • 2
    I'm not usually one to say that such a word doesn't exist but I think in this instance, there are two elements that need to be described by one word, per your request...instant understanding + time of occurrence. To me, that would require a modifier to the "understanding" or "getting" aspect of the request - hence, you'd end up with two words or a phrase. I'm favoriting this question to see what anyone can come up with! :-) Aug 8 '14 at 21:49
  • 'She soon got his number.' << have (got) somebody's number: to understand the way someone behaves They've got our number – they play harder against us than anybody else. / She seems to know exactly what people our age want – she definitely has our number.>> ... Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms Aug 8 '14 at 21:53
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    @KristinaLopez I agree, but bear in mind I'm not necessarily looking for a single word. In any case, thank you!
    – Matt
    Aug 8 '14 at 21:53

Woman meets man. He asks her something out of the ordinary, but she'd been expecting exactly that sort of question, from him, despite having just met him. She smiles, because she's got him all figured out.

In Idioms by The Free Dictionary:

figure someone or something out
to begin to comprehend someone or something; to come to understand someone or something better. I just can't figure you out. I can't figure out quiet people readily.

  • I like this, particularly the self-possessed and confident overtones of "all figured out". That said, I feel it lacks the note of immediacy, that she just then figured him out. "She [has] got him figured out" accurately describes the woman's current state, but not how (quickly!) she got there.
    – Dan Bron
    Aug 8 '14 at 22:50
  • @DanBron- I take your point that as a standalone that implication is lost. Although in context, the quickness is implied by the "despite having just met him" clause in the previous sentence. We'd have to say, "She read him like an open book- she had him all figured out the moment they met."
    – Jim
    Aug 19 '14 at 15:22
  • yes, but that's likely true of any word or term we substitute for "all figured out". In general, SWRs seek atomic words which encompass as much of the desired meaning as possible; barring single words, we fall back to well-established two-word terms, then three-word terms, and ultimately to sentences.
    – Dan Bron
    Aug 19 '14 at 15:25

To see sb's true colours, may suggest the idea. It may also refer to a first meeting and it is specifically about understanding the true personality of someone:

to see someone's real character for the first time, especially when it is unpleasant:

  • It was only when they started to work together that she began to see his true colours.
  • Thank you, but I'm looking for a positive connotation, or a neutral one, and 'true colours' does, in fact, suggest a negative personality.
    – Matt
    Aug 8 '14 at 21:51

To "get" something is to understand something; to say to someone "I get you" or "I know you" is to say "I understand you on a fundamental level" (usually intuitively rather than analytically).

For instance, in the Tom & Angela song "You Get Me", Tom is not saying "I understood your question, Angela", but something more like a sense of "immediate, complete, and intuitive" understanding.

To extend the metaphor to "within a short timeframe", we'll usually add a temporal qualifier, such as "I got you instantly" or "I got you the moment we met". You could also say "I really got his number" (or, more rarely, "his measure"), though the connotation there is more adversarial ("he's clever but he can't outwit me", or "I know how we can pull one over on him").

Some alternatives include "I read you like a book", and "saw through you", but again these have slightly negative (or at least self-promoting) connotations.

As a last resort, if your new friend is a sci-fi enthusiast, you could always say "I grokked you".

  • Would something like: "She had him pinned down, instantly" make sense?
    – Matt
    Aug 8 '14 at 21:41
  • Matt, similar idea to "get", but similarly doesn't require that it happened upon their first meeting (unless you said, of course, "upon their first meeting").
    – Dan Bron
    Aug 8 '14 at 21:44
  • The sense of 'get' meaning 'understand what you are saying' is far more common than that meaning 'understand you on a fundamental level' (being licensed by say Collins and RHK Webster's). Aug 8 '14 at 22:32
  • In the context of the OP's question, the phrase "I get you" is completely unambiguous and supported both by popular usage and common sense.
    – Dan Bron
    Aug 8 '14 at 22:37
  • (And for the sake accuracy: the original answer was I get you: emphasized as it would be inflected if one was saying it aloud to another he fundamentally understands.)
    – Dan Bron
    Aug 8 '14 at 22:41

'I saw through him like a pane of glass."

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