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What is the word for saying more than you intended?

For example: When a criminal refers in casual converstion to the place or method of a crime because it is playing on his mind.

11 Answers 11

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When you reveal something inadvertently it is (from Collins)

let slip
PHRASE

If you let slip information, you accidentally tell it to someone, when you wanted to keep it secret.

Example: I bet he let slip that I'd gone to America.

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Merriam-Webster does not even flag this as informal, but surely it is:

blab [verb] [intransitive]

...

2: to reveal a secret especially by indiscreet chatter

[transitive]

to reveal especially without reserve or discretion

blabbed the whole affair to the press

Cambridge English Dictionary adds the 'informal' tag and gives a more closely matching definition:

blab verb [ I or T ] informal:

to talk carelessly or too much, often telling others something you should keep secret....

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  • @EdwinAshworth are you saying there is a distinct UK-US difference or just that the dictionaries have differences? (I agree that in AmE 'blab' is definitely informal, so I think MW is just lacking). – Mitch Jul 29 at 13:23
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    @EdwinAshworth Or possibly that they have simply ordered the senses in a different way: one according to popularity, and the other according to chronological introduction, for instance. I sometimes find that the entry listed first isn't the most common idiomatically, at least with Merriam-Webster. Just look at gold standard, for example, where the sense listed first is no longer nearly as common as its current figurative sense. – Jason Bassford Jul 29 at 13:23
  • Ah yes; I forget that M-W, like OED, is historical. // Checking other dictionaries, every one lists the 'spill the beans' sense first (or solely), regardless of publishing zone. I'll delete my first comment. // Few have the 'informal' caveat, @Mitch. – Edwin Ashworth Jul 29 at 13:48
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    To me, blab suggests a lack of care or discretion, rather than any kind of intent. Someone who blabs just speaks indiscriminately, without any regard for whether they should really be spreading a certain piece of information. It doesn't require any kind of regret or acknowledgement that the information should not have been shared. A blabber shares more than other people might want, but they don't share any more than they themselves intend. A blabber won't necessarily look back and think, "I shouldn't have said that." – Nuclear Wang Jul 30 at 12:53
  • You seem to be saying then, Nuclear W, that 'blab' is to talk carelessly but in contrast a 'blabber' is calculating. Perhaps you can add an 'answer'. With supporting linked reliable references. – Edwin Ashworth Jul 31 at 15:53
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The phenomenon is called Freudian slip.

Freudian slip: A Freudian slip, also called parapraxis, is an error in speech, memory, or physical action that occurs due to the interference of an unconscious subdued wish or internal train of thought. [Wikipedia]

Or Parapraxis.

Parapraxis: a slip of the tongue or pen, forgetfulness, misplacement of objects, or other error thought to reveal unconscious wishes or attitudes. [Dictionary.com]

Or Lapsus.


If you need a verb for the action of saying more than intended, then I suggest blurt.

Blurt (out): To utter suddenly or inadvertently; divulge impulsively or unadvisedly (usually followed by out).

Example: He blurted out the hiding place of the spy. [Dictionary.com]

Or spill the beans also fit the description.

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    I immediately thought that "Blurt out" is the best option here, then followed your links and found out that it is simply a sort of Freudian slick. A lapsus smees to be more about phonetic gemas like spuns and poonerisms. Somewhere in here is skid talk, too. – Conrado Jul 29 at 14:13
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    Malcolm Gladwell has a podcast on Revisionist History that centers on the parapraxis that Elvis had in performing "Are you lonely tonight?" revisionisthistory.com/episodes/30-analysis-parapraxis-elvis – rajah9 Jul 30 at 11:43
  • @rajah9, Interesting podcast! – Decapitated Soul Jul 30 at 12:02
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In American military propaganda, the term "Loose lips" was used to refer to accidentally revealing secret information that an enemy could use against them, the full phrase being Loose lips sink ships.

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I'll nominate the relative newcomer "overshare." According to Merriam-Webster:

over·​share | \ ˌō-vər-ˈsher \ overshared; oversharing; overshares Definition of overshare transitive + intransitive

: to share or reveal too much information

Shakarian cautions students to not overshare information online, to create complex passwords and to only use secure networks. — Emily Giordano

The sharing and discussion of emotion has always been heavily gendered and women who "overshare" details of their private lives have historically been maligned. — Rachel Sykes

… [Rihanna] doesn't overshare her life on social media — despite having 60 million and 86 million followers on Instagram and Twitter respectively — and you never know who she's dating, despite who you see her with. — Joshua Eferighe

In my experience, it's used more often in cases where the result is social discomfort rather than a security breach, but the above examples show that it can be used across the spectrum.

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    I don't think "overshare" refers a person giving out more information than that person wanted to. Rather, it refers to Person A giving out more information than Person B thinks is appropriate. – Michael Seifert Jul 30 at 19:24
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You could say "I spilled the beans"

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    This is probably a good fit for the request, but you should add supporting evidence as to why it does. – Skooba Jul 30 at 11:44
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I would use 'overspoke'. The context would preclude meanings related to 'exaggerate' or 'shouted over'. I think it would make the point, as in "Perhaps I overspoke..."

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I remembered Skid talk from an essay in an old English (UK-published) high school literature book we had lying around. The piece was supposed to be representative of American literature.

Skid-talk is more than a slip of the tongue. It's a slip of the whole mind. In effect, it puts one idea on top of another, producing a sort of mental double exposure - and my friend Bunny is a master of the art. When her husband, a prominent Hollywood director, completed a screen epic recently she told him loyally, "I hope it goes over with a crash." She was very enthusiastic after the preview. "It's a great picture," she assured everyone. "Don't miss it if you can." -- Corey Ford, published in RD, 1954 sometime. [Truth-unleashed Blog]

It seems to have been a one-off; I can't seem to find it in any dictionary, not even American ones, and a quick online search only brings up references to the original article or derivative works. However, it is sure enough an American classic, so here it is for what it's worth.

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    These are malapropisms, but not necessarily phrases saying more than she intends. – Xanne Jul 29 at 20:49
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A slip of the tongue is something that is said by mistake. It normally describes a small, short word or phrase that's said by mistake while trying to say something else. It can often occur when someone is thinking about something other than what they're speaking about. A slip of the tongue is often recognized and corrected immediately by the speaker as they realize what they've said.

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Idiomatically, running off at the mouth.

run off at the mouth

  1. To speak without discretion; to speak too loudly or freely, especially about sensitive topics or information. We would have gotten away with our plan if your dumb cousin hadn't started running off at the mouth all over town. thefreedictionary.com
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The real answer is simply "[... but I've] said too much", but there is a common English expression "to let the cat out of the bag", a metaphor since it literally refers to revealing too much.

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