In a group of individuals where we're looking for one specific person, you could call out something to bait them into revealing themselves, because only that person would know to react. It may also be inadvertent.

For example: Bob calls his friend John "Hey fatass!", and Alice turns to look at Bob with a red face not knowing it wasn't intended for her, revealing that she's self-conscious.

Is there a specific expression or word for this thing?

  • The title needs rephrasing, I feel. It's not what the body of the post asks for.
    – Kris
    Commented Jan 23, 2018 at 9:47
  • @Kris I dunno how to best phrase it. Any suggestions, feel free to make an edit please
    – davidtgq
    Commented Jan 23, 2018 at 9:54

3 Answers 3


How about betray? From Google:

betray verb

  1. unintentionally reveal; be evidence of.

"she drew a deep breath that betrayed her indignation"




  1. trick or deceive (someone) into doing something contrary to their interests or intentions.

from (https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/trap)


A sleuth, entrap, or swindle because she discovers you for what you are, an expletive (slimeball, seducer, pick any)

Edit: An allusion would be the correct word, because an analogy would be something limiting like 'let me give you an analogy....' Whereas an alluding would be allegory like for example, if Jack were a wall and I am talking to a wall but she understands what the message is then that would be alluding.

Note: please excuse text medium my cell phone does not permit italics, bold etc even with glasses on.

al·lu·sion əˈlo͞oZHən/Submit noun an expression designed to call something to mind without mentioning it explicitly; an indirect or passing reference. "an allusion to Shakespeare" synonyms: reference to, mention of, suggestion of, hint to, intimation of, comment on, remark on "the town's name is an allusion to its founding family" the practice of making allusions, especially as an artistic device.

@ Lawrence, a narc, KGB, Spy to answer your suggested revised question from the OP. The answers swindle, entrap and sleuth expressions stands from Alice's point whisper's held under her breath while 'red face embarrassing incongruence wanting to be seen and not seen' (Steve Andreas: six blind elephants). My firm expressions would not be so much as whispered as a shout such as You dumb f*×# etc., while a daughter to a drunken sailor watching would respond differently. Other's, like Sven the Great observing the event 'spiff' or 'miff' not a care in the world to answer for example, to the originally open-ended question by OP somewhat provisionary or tentative genuine feeling like a lady gender speak in distress would typical likely ask a Hero instinct theoretically. Allusion, Styles or rhetorical device or a figure(s) of Speech 50 +/- something (numbers changes depending on blog), is still the correct answer, and you can start a great new thread question with that "allusion" if you want to? It is a good question though some may not agree on certain tentative aspects.

  • 2
    Please check a dictionary to see whether any of the three words you suggest describe a situation in which someone hears something called out and then inadvertently reveals information. If you find a relevant definition, please add it to your answer. I should warn you, though, that you are unlikely to find any such definition.
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 2:27
  • It isn't clear from your answer how any of the words sleuth, entrap, swindle or allusion describes a person revealing something inadvertently. The closest of these would be entrap, but that sounds more like what the caller does, which isn't what the OP asked about. Can you please explain how your suggestions answer the question?
    – Lawrence
    Commented Jan 27, 2018 at 1:48

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