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Telling tales out of school

Posted by ESC on August 29, 2004

In Reply to: Talking out of school posted by ESC on August 29, 2004

: : I'd love to know the origin of "talking out of school"... I believed
: : it meant telling tales, snitching, or ratting out someone. Others tell me that it now means " speaking outside one's competence"?

: : True? False? What does anyone think?

: My opinion: "talking out of school" or "telling tales out of school" is tattling.

Here it is:

TELL TALES OUT OF SCHOOL - "Betray confidences. It was originally said only of children, apparently children who let drop at home things they had heard from schoolmates in the nature of gossip or happenings within a family. Now it applies to anyone who reveals confidences (usually not very weighty) he has received. The saying is old enough to have been picked up by William Tyndale in 'The Practyse of Prelates' : 'So that what cometh once in may never out, for fear of telling tales out of school.'" From The Dictionary of Cliches by James Rogers (Wings Books, Originally New York: Facts on File Publications, 1985).