I'm looking for an idiom or expression that could be used for criticizing someone who tries to hide a big fact in their life/ an important issue while the nature of that fact/ issue is so that it will be disclosed inevitably.

For example:

1- A pregnant woman who tries to hide her pregnancy

2- A celebrity who has had a nose job or another cosmetic surgery but tries to keep it as a secret

3- A person who has fallen in love with somebody, engaged or married recently but tries to not disclose it

4- A country that sells military equipment and ammunition to another country secretly (but it is clear that after those equipment are applied or used, everybody would find out where they have been made in.)

We Iranians use this proverb:

"You cannot ride a camel furtively."

Like in:

"Why are you trying to hide you're pregnancy?! You'll eventually start showing and people will know. As the proverb says "You cannot ride a camel furtively".

Is there any idiom, expression, or proverb for criticizing behavior or implying " such facts or issues cannot be concealed"?


1- For a person who tries to conceal the fact he/ she is in love with somebody, I just found this proverb: "Love and cough cannot be hid", but I don't think it can be used for my other examples too.

2- In the bellow cartoon the former president of Yemen is shown while riding a camel furtively (I found it in a Persian website and it had no comment, so I just used it for showing that Persian proverb and translated the Persian texts into English).

enter image description here

  • @edwinashworth Not sure why you deleted. Your suggest sounds most apt.
    – bib
    Commented Mar 24, 2016 at 16:52
  • 2
    My current favourite is You can't ignore the elephant in the womb, addressed to someone who's refusing to face up to the implications of being pregnant. Commented Mar 24, 2016 at 17:06
  • 1
    @bib The 'elephant in the room' is obvious to all concerned; they all choose to remain in denial. Here, the truth may not be so obvious (and still secret) for the moment. Compare 8.999 months pregnant with 0.7 months pregnant. Commented Mar 24, 2016 at 17:15
  • @EdwinAshworth I think the term regularly used for those things that cannot be ignored, even when they are not immediately tangible. If a politician appeared before a group about whom he had said disparaging things, his prior comments would be the elephant in the room before it was raised and even if some of the audience were not aware of the remarks.
    – bib
    Commented Mar 24, 2016 at 17:21
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    That camel line is awesome. I am going to start using that in English. Let's make it a thing.
    – Barry
    Commented Mar 24, 2016 at 21:33

8 Answers 8


If, like the Americans mentioned in this good ELU answer, you don’t mind slightly mixing two metaphors/expressions (the ones about the elephant in the room and the 800-pound gorilla) and then using the result as a simile that, although unrelated to the strict meaning of either of the two originals, would nevertheless mean "such facts or issues cannot be concealed," you could consider:

[That’s] like trying to hide an 800-pound gorilla.

(from ‘Labor of Love: The Story of One Man's Extraordinary Pregnancy’ by Thomas Beatie, via ‘Google Books’ where it’s used in “Hiding a pregnant man is like trying to hide an eight-hundred-pound gorilla.”)


Elephant in the Room

The term refers to a question, problem, solution, or controversial issue which is obvious to everyone who knows about the situation, but which is deliberately ignored because to do otherwise would cause great embarrassment, or trigger arguments or is simply taboo.
The idiom can imply a value judgment that the issue ought to be discussed openly, or it can simply be an acknowledgment that the issue is there and not going to go away by itself.

"800-pound gorilla" is an American English expression for a person or organization so powerful that it can act without regard to the rights of others or the law.
The phrase is rooted in a joke riddle:
"Where does an 800-lb. gorilla sit?"
The answer: "Anywhere it wants to."
This highlights the disparity of power between the "800-lb. gorilla" and everything else.
The term can describe a powerful geopolitical and military force, or, in business, a powerful corporate entity that has such a large majority percentage of whatever market they compete within that they can use that strength to crush would-be competitors.
(The metaphor includes an inherent bit of hyperbole; the highest weight yet recorded for an actual obese gorilla is 600 lb. (270 kg). The average weight is 400 lb.)
The metaphor has been mixed, on occasion, with the metaphor of the elephant in the room.

(both from ‘Wikipedia’)


Truth will out

One way or another, in spite of all efforts to conceal it, the truth will come to be known.

Not too much of an idiom, but "The truth will come to light" has been used in this scenario since probably before Shakespeare used it in The Merchant in Venice (Act 2, Scene 2):

Well, old man,I will tell you news of
your son: give me your blessing: truth will come
to light
; murder cannot be hid long; a man's son
may, but at the length truth will out.

The last part, truth will out has come to mean the longer phrase.


The cat will soon be out of the bag

The cat is out of the bag = The secret has been revealed

Let the cat out of the bag = to reveal a secret

The shit will hit the fan (warning: vulgar)

The shit has hit the fan = A scandal has erupted, the situation is a huge mess. This can also apply to revealing a big unpleasant secret.

However, both of these merely describe the situation. They do not directly admonish the person who is trying to keep a secret.


You can't keep it under wraps forever, or, You can't keep it under wraps much longer

The Free Dictionary

Concealed or secret, as in The design for the new plant is under wraps. This idiom frequently is put as keep under wraps, meaning "keep secret," as in Let's keep this theory under wraps until we've tested it sufficiently. It alludes to covering something completely by wrapping it up


Secrets are never long-lived

A Dictionary of American Proverbs

There's nothing hidden/concealed that will not [be revealed]

Be very sure that what is secret today will be very public tomorrow.

Speaking about celebrities, someone said: “They spend the first half of their lives trying to be recognized by everyone, and then the second half of their lives trying not to be recognized by anyone.”

It’s true. Famous people soon hate the fact that everything in their lives becomes public. The media dig into their background. The paparazzi photograph their every move. They can’t go to a restaurant or a sports event or a theater without someone spotting them and a crowd gathering. Almost nothing stays private.

Part of us enjoys the revelations the media gives us about superstars. And part of us realizes how difficult it must be if everything about you gets known.

Jesus, though, is very clear that ultimately everything about all of us will get known. He says that in four sets of parallels:

!1) There’s nothing concealed that will not be disclosed.

2) There’s nothing hidden that will not be made known.

3) What has been said in the dark will be heard in the daylight.

4) What has been whispered in a private, inner room will be proclaimed from the roofs (vs. 2-3).


[You can] be sure your sins will find you out

Collins Spanish Dictionary


You can't keep a lid on that forever.

This is a harsh way to point out that something cannot be controlled or held secret for long. The truth will escape despite one's best efforts to prevent it.


"It's as plain as the nose on your face!" is a common retort to someone trying to deny or hide an obvious fact. "Elephant in the room" has an unstated ending "that no one wants to talk about" used in a different context - everyone sees it, but it's uncomfortable to acknowledge.


On your topic I like these two idioms of the English language.

"Between you and me and the cat's whiskers" This idiom is used when telling someone something that you want them to keep secret.

"A little bird told me" Said if you know who gave you the information being discussed but do not want to say who it was.

The idioms can be used in the context of your proposed situations: to criticize someone who tries to hide a big fact in their life

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