Title covers the question; I seem to remember a phrase meaning 'to tell someone something before they find out from elsewhere' but I can't now remember it. Something like 'beat the news', perhaps, though I don't think this is in common usage.

Couldn't find anything online for the same question, so was hoping someone here might be able to remember if there is a phrase and, if not, suggest an apt one.

Many thanks!

  • 1
    The idiomatic phrases offered in the three answers below are good (albeit somewhat informal) options. If you are looking for something a bit more formal, you might consider "preemptively disclose."
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Jan 11, 2019 at 19:54

4 Answers 4


You are going to beat them to the punch and tell the person about it before somebody else does:


: to do or achieve something before someone else is able to
// We were working on a new product but before we could get it into the market our competition beat us to the punch.

You can replace them with any pronoun.

Note, too, that you are beating somebody else at something. In my example sentence, the them that you will beat to the punch refers to the other person or people (your "elsewhere") who might tell your "someone something" first.

If you don't have a specific person in mind that you would be beating but just want to say that you're going to get to something first, you can say:

I'm going to beat everybody else to the punch and [something].


Two phrases that are commonly used in the context of mass media are to "get out ahead of a story" and to "control the narrative". These phrases describe how it's often better to own up to unfavorable news and release it to the public yourself, rather than wait for someone else to break the story and have it look like you're hiding something. By controlling the narrative, you choose to spread the bad news, but you can at least control the messaging to minimize negative aspects that might have been the focus of someone else's reporting.

These don't really apply to personal, one-on-one disclosures of information, but still fit within the general idea of telling someone something before they find out from a third party. These also apply only to disclosures of bad news, as there's no urgent need to control how good news is reported and viewed by the public.


To tell someone something before they find out from elsewhere (typically bad news) is also called breaking the news to them.


break the news

(transitive with to) To inform someone of something first, usually used when it will be difficult to tell the person.


break the ˈnews (to somebody)

be the first to tell somebody some bad news:

I’m sorry to be the one to break the news.

Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

  • 'to tip off someone something before they find out otherwise'

tip off TFD idiomatic, or tip someone off

verb / to give one secret, private, or insider information or news, especially that which gives them or someone else an advantage of some kind. A noun or pronoun can be used between "tip" and "off."

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