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play it close to one's chest

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Be secretive or cautious, give nothing away, as in We've no idea how many tickets they sold; they play it close to their chests. This expression, which is also put as play one's cards close to one's chest, alludes to holding one's cards up against one's chest, so that no one else can see them. [Slang; mid-1900s]

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

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