It seems to me that whenever I'm in line to pay for my groceries, and whenever I go on Yahoo, I encounter celebrities "opening up" -- about the disgraceful acts of people who had trusted them to preserve their privacy. I have not actually read the articles, but they always seem to be about gross behavior (abuse or drug addition or perversion or something) on the part of parents, husbands, wives, or children.

The expression "opening up" has a positive connotation and does not seem to be the correct word for what these people are doing -- divulging other people's embarrassing secrets for money, or perhaps pretending to do this by making stuff up.

But what would be the correct word? "Angelina finally _____ [betrays Brad's trust and humiliates him for money] about Brad." It seems like some slang words (like sells out, rats out) come close. When I look online for alternatives, they seems somehow wrong. For example, I went here and clicked the "as in admit" tab...

enter image description here

but everything seemed to have the wrong flavor, e.g. legalistic or psychological. Would you expect to see "Angie reveals things about Brad," or "Angie discloses things about Brad"? "Spill" is a funny thought, short for "spilling the beans" I guess; it seems to belong to dialog in a Broadway musical, like "dishing the dirt."

The only word that seems at all plausible is "Angie talks about Brad," but still, that's not quite it. Can you suggest some standard English words for "revealing other people's secrets" at various points on the spectrum from praise to censure?

  • 1
    When it gets to those supermarket checkout rags, there are no "correct" words.
    – Hot Licks
    Jun 7, 2017 at 12:32
  • 1
    Angie comes clean about Brad. Jun 7, 2017 at 12:37
  • "Angie reveals things about Brad" is the most neutral in my mind.
    – P. O.
    Jun 7, 2017 at 13:18
  • @FumbleFingers That strikes me as praise for Angie,and as if her silence had been blameworthy and she's now mending her ways.
    – Chaim
    Jun 7, 2017 at 13:24
  • Do you seriously think celebrities say anything like this for money? Angelina Jolie has more money than she knows what to do with. Most of the time, these ‘articles’ consist of entirely made-up rubbish insufficiently pieced together from a few throwaway comments in otherwise unrelated interviews (or just pulled out of thin air entirely), but even on the rare occasion when they have any basis in reality, money is rarely the motivator. Jun 7, 2017 at 15:43

2 Answers 2


"tells all" is a euphemism often used for the situation described where someone shares information formerly held secret and most often information concerning multiple parties. It has some negative connotation although not a heavy one. Often it might be a sort of confession (similar to "coming clean"). It is not quite "ratting out" although "telling" on someone has some of that connotation we carry from grade school playground code of not sharing wrong doings outside of the peer group. (of course there are justifications for 'telling' such as bullying or extreme violations beyond chewing gum where you are not supposed to etc)

"bares all" or "bare the family secrets" are other euphemisms similar to "opening up" but with a bit more flavor of "showing private" things normally not made for public consumption. The second, "baring family secrets" certainly has a sense of betrayal of trust to it.

betrays their confidence or "betrays their privacy** might be other ways of being completely negative although the first is most frequently used for blabbing about things like negotiations.


Divulge [dih-vuhlj, dahy-]/ verb (used with object), divulged, divulging.

  1. to disclose or reveal (something private, secret, or previously unknown).


Expose [ik-spohz]/ verb (used with object), exposed, exposing.

  1. to present to view; exhibit; display:

  2. to make known, disclose, or reveal (intentions, secrets, etc.).

  3. to reveal or unmask (a crime, fraud, impostor, etc.):

  4. to hold up to public reprehension or ridicule (fault, folly, a foolish act or person, etc.).

Angelina finally divulged the truth about Brad.

Angelina finally exposed the truth about Brad.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.