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Blowing the cover

Posted by Smokey Stover on March 21, 2006

In Reply to: Blowing the cover posted by rian on March 21, 2006

: what does the phrase "blowing the cover" or "blowing my cover" mean? and in what context can we use this phrase? thanks for the help.

"Blowing THE cover" is less often used than "blowing my cover" or "blowing her cover" (in the case of Valerie Plame). It means, of course, unmasking me, she or it, since I have been masquerading as a) a simple businessman, b) a cultural attaché at the embassy, or c) just a tourist, any of which false occupations would be my cover, covering up my true identity. Working undercover means, of course, pretending that your true identity is anything but what you it really is. I suppose "blowing" one's cover can be seen as blowing it off to reveal the truth, or blowing it away, or blowing it up (exploding it), or almost any of the things that blowing suggests. To blow something often means make a mess of it: "I blew my chances," "He blew his opportunity." Usually you don't blow your own cover; sometimes your enemies do, sometimes your friends, sometimes journalists, or if you're really unlucky, the government you work for, your employer.

Of course, it's not only government spies that go undercover. Policemen and other investigators (like Nancy Drew or Veronica Mars) sometimes do as well. And their covers are sometimes blown. SS