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sail under false colors

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To behave deceptively; the “colors” of a ship are its identifying flags: “It turned out that the door-to-door sales rep was sailing under false colors and was actually a swindler.”

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SHALL WE PLAY A "SHALL" VS. "SHOULD" CHALLENGE?
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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

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sail under false colors

see under false colors.

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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