Example: Someone in a group committed a crime or a wrong doing. No one saw them doing it it.

Upon discovery of the wrong doing, everyone is brought together to bring the matter to light.

The speaker addresses the group that this and that happened and so forth but doesn't say who did it.

During a pause, the culprit is the first to breaks the silence. Obviously due to unbearable tension. They don't confess, but rather just say anything to distract or lighten the mood.

What do you call this phenomenon?

  • Related? english.stackexchange.com/questions/533585/…
    – Conrado
    Commented May 11, 2020 at 11:53
  • It's not clear exactly what you're looking for. Do you want the word for somebody who says something simply to break an uncomfortable silence (which might have nothing to do with guilt at all), do you want the word for somebody who breaks such a silence because they're guilty (but it doesn't lead to them giving themselves away), or do you want the word for somebody who accidentally "outs" themselves? What are the consequence of them saying in this situation, for instance, "I can't believe how hot it is!" Commented May 11, 2020 at 15:00
  • @Jason Bassford The 2nd one.
    – Greyhay
    Commented May 12, 2020 at 10:55

2 Answers 2


I think the word blurt is best suited for this, although whether a character blurts out a confession or not, is simply dependent on the context. Oxford Languages gives the following definition:




say (something) suddenly and without careful consideration.

"she blurted out the truth"


This would be in specialist's terms a case of seduction (psychological manipulations)

  • Seduction: Manipulator uses charm, praise, flattery or overtly supporting others in order to get them to lower their defenses and give their trust and loyalty to the manipulator.
  • At a stretch, and figuratively, "seduction" might be the action of the person who addressed the group, but it is not the action of the confessor.
    – Greybeard
    Commented Feb 6, 2023 at 9:19
  • @Greybeard I don't believe at all that this type of behaviour is an exclusivity of group leaders or people in the public eye. I think the term is perfectly applicable to the culprit.
    – LPH
    Commented Feb 6, 2023 at 10:15

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