tip one's hand


Accidentally reveal one's intentions, as in He avoided any comments on birthdays for fear of tipping his hand about the surprise party. This idiom probably alludes to holding one's hand in such a way that others can see the cards one is holding. [Colloquial; early 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.