show one's true colors

Reveal oneself as one really is, as in We always thought he was completely honest, but he showed his true colors when he tried to use a stolen credit card. This expression alludes to the antonym, false colors, that is, sailing under a flag other than one's own. [Late 1700s]


Nearby words

  1. show one's colors,
  2. show one's face,
  3. show one's hand,
  4. show one's heels,
  5. show one's teeth,
  6. show pony,
  7. show signs of,
  8. show someone a good time,
  9. show someone out,
  10. show someone the door

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