Is there an English expression to say "Le jupon dépasse" to express the fact that someone's hidden intentions are revealed in his/her talk or movements?

  • Can you give more contexts for the phrase? It sounds more literally like 'your slip is showing' something embarrassing, a minor failing. 'true intentions' sounds more like hypocrisy. – Mitch Dec 3 '11 at 15:55
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    @Mitch It's an expression that means literally "your underskirt is showing", which is a locution, meaning "your hidden motive is showing." – MPelletier Dec 3 '11 at 18:36
  • I must say I'm a little miffed that this was moved to EU&L. EU&L is a fine community, but if translation is going to generate migrations between "to" and "from" languages, we might as well just have one big "all translations" SE site. It's not about one language or another, it's about both. – MPelletier Dec 3 '11 at 18:38
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    @MPelletier This discussion would belong on French L&U Meta, but really, your question is not about French. You're asking how to convey an idea in English. The idea happens to be conveyed by an idiom in French, but the question is still fundamentally about English. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Dec 3 '11 at 20:40
  • @Gilles But the public who would know the answer would be most likely be where? French L&U or English L&U? I'd say French. I'll move this aspect to the French Meta though. – MPelletier Dec 3 '11 at 20:42

I would say:

he's showing his true intentions

or use the following idioms:

show somebody's true colors
reveal somebody's true colors

  • Il me semble que dans l'expression originelle la révélation n'est pas volontaire alors que dans ces expressions elle semble au contraire volontaire, assumée, ou consciente. – Stéphane Gimenez Dec 2 '11 at 23:38
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    Je pense qu'on peut "show one's true colors" de manière inconsciente, mais c'est aussi une question pour EL&U. – Joubarc Dec 3 '11 at 6:13
  • @Joubarc: Le jupon dépasse est plus familier que show one's true colours – None Dec 3 '11 at 7:28
  • Hors du Québec, j'en doute. – Joubarc Dec 3 '11 at 15:09
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    I would say that here "reveal" suggests a more unconscious act; while "show" suggests a more conscious one. So "reveal" might be the best translation. – Peter Shor Dec 4 '11 at 0:09

In gambling circles, this is referred to as a "Tell". For instance, if one poker player notices that another player scratches his face when he is nervous or bluffing, the first player has identified the second players "Tell". This is a slang term that refers to something the second player is doing that "tells" a different story than the one he wants you to believe. A "Tell" can be a nuance in body language, a gesture, a tone of voice, or any other subtle indicator one person has identified in another. It's a signature action that is "telling" you something contradictory to what the person is actually saying.


The closest English phrase in form is

His mask is slipping.


I'd go with "To belie one's stated intentions".

From the Collins English Dictionary (via thefreedictionary.com):

belie [bɪˈlaɪ] vb -lies, -lying, -lied (tr)

  1. to show to be untrue; contradict

  2. to misrepresent; disguise the nature of the report belied the real extent of the damage

  3. to fail to justify; disappoint [Old English belēogan; related to Old Frisian biliuga, Old High German biliugan; see be-, lie1] belier n Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003

For example, "He was kind and considerate to Angela, telling her that he simply liked her for her charming conversation and did not think of her in a romantic way, but the frequent, hungry darting of his eyes to her body belied his stated intentions."

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    In the example sentence, "revealed" rather than "belied" is correct. If you use the definitions and replace the phrase, "contradicted his true intentions," it doesn't lead to the meaning you're trying to convey. – mkennedy Dec 5 '11 at 17:31
  • You're right. I'll changed "true" to "stated" to correctly cover the meaning. – Zoot Dec 5 '11 at 17:53
  • You can't "belie your intentions". You can "belie your stated intentions", but only if your stated intentions are not your real intentions. – Peter Shor Dec 5 '11 at 22:27
  • You're right. It doesn't quite work the same without adding the "stated" context. – Zoot Dec 6 '11 at 15:12

Je ne connaissais pas cette locution, mais en anglais c'est peut-être Truth will out.

  • I'm afraid not. It's closely related, but really the thing about the "underskirt is showing" is that hidden intentions or motives are apparent from one's actions or speech. That means the truth is known (or suspected), not that it will be known". – MPelletier Dec 3 '11 at 18:35
  • @MPelletier: 'Will' doesn't necessarily express the future, but I agree, it's not quite the same. – Barrie England Dec 3 '11 at 18:37
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    @BarrieEngland I understand that the question was initially in French, but as EL&U is a site about the English language, I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you to translate your answer into English as per site policy. – waiwai933 Dec 3 '11 at 22:40
  • @waiwai933: Sorry, I was just following the example established by the previous comments. I simply said I didn't know the expression, but in English it might be 'Truth will out'. – Barrie England Dec 4 '11 at 7:12

I don't happen to know this French expression in spite of being French; from the Google hits it seems to be a Canadian expression.

In English, I'm reminded of “the leopard cannot change its spots” (derived from a Bible quote) (which isn't quite true), with rarer variants such as “the leopard cannot hide its spots”. Both are used to mean that someone's hidden intentions are revealed in their talk or their actions.


They are known as telltale signs. "His way of walking is a telltale sign of his true intentions."

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