Meaning of TELL in English



tell somebody something

1. to give someone information by speaking or writing to them

2. ways of saying that a book, notice etc gives information

3. to tell someone the most recent information

4. to publicly tell a lot of people about something

5. to tell a story

6. to let someone know something without telling them directly

7. to tell someone something that someone else has told you

8. to tell someone what you are feeling

9. to tell someone in authority about something wrong that someone has done

10. someone who gives information to the police

to tell somebody a secret

11. to tell someone something that was a secret

12. to accidentally tell someone a secret

13. to deliberately not tell someone a secret

14. to not tell someone something they want to know

15. ways of asking someone to tell you something

16. to make someone not tell anyone about something

to tell somebody to do something

17. to tell someone to do something

18. to officially tell someone to do something

19. to tell someone to come to you

20. to change an order that someone has given

21. ways of saying that you have been ordered to do something

22. a statement telling someone to do something

23. to give orders in a rude, unpleasant way

24. enjoying telling people what to do


to let people know your feelings or opinions : ↑ EXPRESS

to tell someone how to do something or how something works : ↑ EXPLAIN

to talk angrily to someone because they have done something wrong : ↑ TELL SB OFF

see also







1. to give someone information by speaking or writing to them

▷ tell /tel/ [transitive verb]

▪ If you’d told me earlier I might have been able to do something about it.

tell somebody something

▪ I want you to tell me all the details.

▪ Who on earth told you that?

▪ Can you tell me the quickest way to the centre of town?

tell somebody (that)

▪ She wrote to tell me she was getting married.

▪ We were told that the manager wanted to see us in his office immediately.

tell somebody what/where/who etc

▪ Just tell me what happened.

▪ Can you tell us where the nearest garage is?

tell somebody about something

▪ Have you told anyone about this?

▪ One angry passenger claimed travellers were not told about the mechanical problems.

▷ let somebody know /ˌlet somebody ˈnəʊ/ [verb phrase] especially spoken

to tell someone something important that they need to know or want to know :

▪ If you need any help, just let me know.

▪ You mean she just left without letting anyone know?

let sb know about

▪ They said they’d let her know about the job by the end of the week.

let somebody know something

▪ I’ll let you know our new address as soon as I have it.

let sb know (that)

▪ When you get there, will you phone and let me know you arrived safely?

let sb know what/where/how etc

▪ Jean tried to get in touch with her husband to let him know what had happened.

▷ inform /ɪnˈfɔːʳm/ [transitive verb]

to officially or formally give someone information about something :

▪ Do you think we ought to inform the police?

inform somebody of/about something

▪ You should inform your bank of any change of address.

▪ Doctors should inform patients about the possible side effects of any drugs they prescribe.

inform somebody (that)

▪ I am sorry to inform you that your application has been unsuccessful.

▷ notify /ˈnəʊtɪfaɪ, ˈnəʊtəfaɪ/ [transitive verb] formal

to officially or formally give important information to someone, especially by telling them about something that has happened or that will happen :

▪ Passengers are requested to notify a member of staff if they see suspicious packages.

notify somebody of something

▪ Police notified the boy’s parents of his death immediately.

notify somebody that

▪ Staff were notified several months in advance that they would be losing their jobs.

notification /ˌnəʊtɪfəˈkeɪʃ ə n, ˌnəʊtəfəˈkeɪʃ ə n/ [uncountable noun]

▪ You can ask for notification in writing if you wish.

▷ bring something to somebody’s attention/notice /ˌbrɪŋ something tə somebodyˈs əˈtenʃ ə n, ˈnəʊtə̇s/ [verb phrase]

to tell someone about something that they did not know but which they should know :

▪ I am sure that your parents will want to know about this, and I will personally bring it to their attention.

▪ The General Medical Council cannot investigate every controversial treatment brought to its attention.

it’s been brought to my attention/notice that

▪ It’s been brought to my notice that you’ve expressed your dislike of a certain member of the company.

▷ break the news (to somebody)/break it to somebody /ˌbreɪk ðə ˈnjuːz (tə somebody )ǁ-ˈnuːz-, ˈbreɪk ɪt tə somebody/ [verb phrase]

to tell someone some bad news or something that might upset them :

▪ Do you want to break the news or shall I?

▪ She suspected that she had cancer, and that the doctors were trying to break it to her gradually.

▪ After Jack’s body was found, a policewoman had to break the news to his mother.

break it to somebody that

▪ He was wondering how to break it to Celeste that their relationship was over.

break the news gently/break it to somebody gently

tell someone something in a way that does not shock them too much

▪ Maybe I should speak to Connor first, so he can break the news gently to Patrick and Mary.

2. ways of saying that a book, notice etc gives information

▷ tell /tel/ [transitive verb]

tell somebody how/what/where etc

▪ This leaflet tells you how to apply for a driving licence.

tell somebody something

▪ The two dials in the middle tell you the airspeed and altitude.

tell somebody (that)

▪ A sign told us it was the highest village in England.

▷ give /gɪv/ [transitive verb]

to provide information or details about something :

give information/details/instructions etc

▪ The handbook gave full instructions on how to change the oil.

▪ LA Weekly magazine gives information about what’s on in Los Angeles every week.

give an account/description/report

▪ The article gave a vivid account of life after the earthquake.

give somebody information/details etc

▪ The footprint could give police crucial details about the man’s shoe size and probable weight and size.

▷ say /seɪ/ [transitive verb]

to give a particular piece of information about something :

say something about something

▪ What does the guidebook say about the Opera House?

it says here (that)

it is written here that

▪ It says here that the police are closing in on the killer.

3. to tell someone the most recent information

▷ keep somebody informed /ˌkiːp somebody ɪnˈfɔːʳmd/ [verb phrase]

to give someone regular information about decisions, events etc, so that they know exactly what is happening :

▪ I want to know what you decide, so keep me informed.

keep sb informed of/about

▪ We’ll be keeping you informed of any new developments.

▪ The doctor should be kept informed about any changes in your child’s condition.

keep somebody fully/well informed

▪ During the strike, the media kept the public fully informed about the situation.

▪ Parents have complained that we are not keeping them very well informed of their children’s progress.

▷ keep somebody up to date /ˌkiːp somebody ʌp tə ˈdeɪt/ [verb phrase]

to give someone regular information about what has been happening most recently :

▪ We publish a weekly newsletter to keep everyone up to date.

keep sb up to date with/on

▪ She reads the newspaper every day to keep herself up to date with financial affairs.

▪ the magazine that keeps you up to date on all the latest in rock and pop

▷ fill somebody in /ˌfɪl somebody ˈɪn/ [transitive phrasal verb]

to tell someone about things that have happened recently, which they do not know about because they have not talked to you for quite a long time or they have been somewhere else :

▪ You didn’t miss much - I’ll fill you in later

fill sb in on

▪ Marjorie filled us in on all the latest gossip.

▪ Please can someone fill me in on anything I’ve missed?

fill somebody in on what/where/when etc

▪ Bob filled me in on what he had been doing since we last met.

▷ brief /briːf/ [transitive verb usually in passive]

to give someone all the necessary information about a situation, so that they know exactly what is happening or so that they are prepared for something that they have to do :

▪ Police officers were briefed before going out to arrest the suspects.

be fully/well briefed

▪ Make sure that the PR department are fully briefed on their role.

▪ It was clear the witness had been well briefed.

brief somebody on/about something

▪ You’ll be picked up from here tomorrow night and briefed on what you have to do.

▪ DeGaulle flew back to England to be briefed about the invasion that was about to begin.

briefing [countable noun]

▪ The drug squad’s briefing lasted twenty minutes.

▷ give somebody the low-down /ˌgɪv somebody ðə ˈləʊ daʊn/ [verb phrase] informal

to tell someone all the information they need to know about a situation :

▪ ‘Have you heard about the deal with IBM?’ ‘Yes, John’s just been giving me the low-down.’

give sb the low-down on

▪ The travel reporter was giving the low-down on the evening’s traffic chaos.

▷ give somebody an update on /ˌgɪv somebody ən ˈʌpdeɪt ɒn/ [verb phrase]

to tell someone the things that have happened concerning a particular piece of work, plan, or situation since they last saw you :

▪ Let me give you an update on the trial.

▪ Can you give me an update on any policy changes there’ve been since we last spoke?

▷ report /rɪˈpɔːʳt/ [intransitive/transitive verb]

to officially tell someone about what has been happening in a particular area of work, especially because it is your job to do so :

▪ Is there anything to report?

report to somebody on something

▪ Nicky reports to me on any new developments in the relevant technological fields.

report back (to somebody)

▪ The delegation will report back to Congress on the situation inside China.

4. to publicly tell a lot of people about something

▷ announce /əˈnaʊns/ [transitive verb]

to tell the public about a decision that has been made, or about something that will happen :

▪ The government has announced the date of the next election.

▪ The winner of the award will be announced at a dinner at the Sheraton Hotel.

announce (that)

▪ The Spanish government announced that it would invest over $14,000 million in the Latin American region.

announcement [countable/uncountable noun]

announce that

▪ the announcement that Mr Reeves is to resign

make an announcement

▪ They are expected to make an announcement very soon.

▷ report /rɪˈpɔːʳt/ [transitive verb]

to give people news about what is happening, in newspapers, on television, or on the radio :

▪ The local newspaper has reported several cases of meningitis in the area.

report (that)

▪ Our foreign correspondent reports that conditions in the refugee camps are filthy and overcrowded.

report on

▪ She was sent to Washington to report on the presidential elections.

▷ publicize also publicise British /ˈpʌblɪsaɪz, ˈpʌbləsaɪz/ [transitive verb]

to use the newspapers, television etc to provide information about something such as a new product, a special event, or an important subject, because you want everyone to know about it :

▪ She did a series of interviews to publicize her new book.

▪ Orlov spent seven years in prison for publicizing human-rights violations.

well publicized

mentioned a lot in newspapers, on television etc

▪ The parade was well publicized, and thousands of people came to see it.

▪ a well-publicized case

5. to tell a story

▷ tell (somebody) a story /ˌtel somebody ə ˈstɔːri/ [verb phrase]

▪ Some people are really good at telling stories.

▪ You said you would tell me a story if I was good.

tell (sb) a story about

▪ He began by telling the children a story about a giant who was very unpopular with all the other giants because he wouldn’t eat people.

▷ narrate /nəˈreɪtǁˈnæreɪt, næˈreɪt, nə-/ [transitive verb]

to tell a story by describing all the events in order, especially at the same time as actors act them out :

▪ ‘The Snowman’, narrated by Bernard Cribbins

▪ John Peace narrates his tale, taking us from his beginnings through university and professional training into his old age.

▷ storyteller /ˈstɔːriˌteləʳ/ [countable noun]

a person who tells stories for entertainment :

▪ He was a marvellous storyteller. The children would listen to him for hours.

▪ In the old oral tradition, the storyteller was an important link with the past.

▷ narrator /nəˈreɪtəʳǁˈnæreɪ-, næˈreɪtəʳ, nə-/ [countable noun]

the person in a story who seems to speak directly to the reader and who describes everything that happens - used especially when you write about literature :

▪ Ishmael, the narrator of the story, tells the reader why he went to sea.

▪ Flaubert’s narrator enters Emma Bovary’s consciousness from time to time, to describe events from her point of view.

6. to let someone know something without telling them directly

▷ make something known /ˌmeɪk something ˈnəʊn/ [verb phrase]

to let someone know something without telling them directly, for example by behaving in a particular way or by telling someone else who you know will then tell the person :

▪ The Queen made her displeasure known by cancelling her visit.

make your feelings/views/wishes known

▪ People without the right to vote were often able to make their feelings known through demonstrations or riots.

make it known that

▪ The other boys in Steven’s class took every opportunity to make it known that he was not accepted.

▷ give somebody to understand (that) /ˌgɪv somebody tʊ ˌʌndəʳˈstænd (ðət)/ [verb phrase usually in passive] formal

to make someone think that something is true, or that something will happen, but without actually saying this clearly :

▪ A friend of your daughter’s gave us to understand that you lived in Michigan.

▪ Although I received no official indication, I was given to understand that I would be promoted within a year.

▷ not in so many words /nɒt ɪn ˌsəʊ meni ˈwɜːʳdz/ [preposition]

if someone lets you know something shocking, bad, or unkind, but not in so many words, they let you know that it is true without saying it directly :

▪ ‘Did Sarah tell you she was leaving?’ ‘Not in so many words, no.’

7. to tell someone something that someone else has told you

▷ pass on /ˌpɑːs ˈɒnǁˌpæs-/ [transitive phrasal verb]

to give someone a message or some information that another person has asked you to give :

pass on something (to somebody)

▪ Could you pass on my thanks for all these lovely gifts?

▪ Please pass on my sympathy to Mr and Mrs Stanton.

pass something on (to somebody)

▪ She said she’d pass the message on to the other students.

▪ I’m grateful for everything that has been said today, and I will be sure to pass it on.

▷ relay /ˈriːleɪ/ [transitive verb]

to send or give someone an official message, a piece of news, information etc which you have received from another person :

▪ Mendoza relayed the news as soon as he returned to the base.

relay to

▪ The speaker opened the session by relaying some messages to the conference.

8. to tell someone what you are feeling

▷ get something off your chest /ˌget something ɒf jɔːʳ ˈtʃest/ [verb phrase]

to tell someone about something that has been worrying you or annoying you for a long time so that you feel better afterwards :

▪ I feel so much better now that I’ve got that off my chest.

▪ Writing to you is a good way to get things off my chest.

▷ pour out your heart/soul /ˌpɔːr aʊt jɔːʳ ˈhɑːʳt, ˈsəʊl/ [verb phrase]

to tell someone everything about some strong emotions that you are feeling, especially feelings of unhappiness :

▪ Suddenly, Jason burst into tears and poured out his heart, telling his mother all about everything.

pour out your heart/soul to

▪ I had no idea Kay was so unhappy until she poured out her soul to me last night.

▷ confide in /kənˈfaɪd ɪn/ [transitive phrasal verb]

to tell someone about something very private or secret, especially a personal problem, because you feel that you can trust them :

▪ He was a good listener and Elinor found it easy to confide in him.

confide in about

▪ He wanted desperately to confide in someone about his feelings of failure.

confide in that

▪ Harriet confided in me that she and Mark were considering divorce.

9. to tell someone in authority about something wrong that someone has done

▷ tell on/tell /ˈtel ɒn, tel/ [transitive phrasal verb/intransitive verb]

to tell someone in authority, especially a parent or teacher, about something wrong that someone has done - used by children :

▪ I’m going to tell if you don’t stop messing around.

▪ Please don’t tell on me -- Mum thinks I’ve been staying at my friend’s house.

▷ rat on also split on somebody British informal /ˈræt ɒn, ˈsplɪt ɒn somebody/ [transitive phrasal verb]

to tell someone in authority about something wrong that someone has done, especially when this seems disloyal :

▪ Can you believe he ratted on his own brother?

▪ Don’t worry, Robert’s reliable. He won’t split on us.

▷ tell tales British /tattle (on somebody) American /ˌtel ˈteɪlz, ˈtætl (ɒn somebody)/ [verb phrase]

if a child tells tales or tattles on someone, they tell a parent or teacher about something another child has done in order to cause trouble :

▪ ‘Mum, Daniel’s broken a plate.’ ‘Don’t tell tales, dear.’

▪ Sarah’s teacher told her it was silly to keep tattling on her classmates.

▪ You’ll lose all your friends if you keep tattling.

▷ report /rɪˈpɔːʳt/ [transitive verb]

to give information about a crime, an accident etc to the police or to someone in authority :

▪ I’d like to report a theft.

report something to somebody

▪ All accidents must be reported at once to the aviation authority.

▪ Many rape victims are too scared to report the attack to the police.

report somebody (for something)

▪ A man has been reported for a number of alleged motoring offences.

▷ inform on /ɪnˈfɔːʳm ɒn/ [transitive phrasal verb]

to secretly tell the police that someone you know has done something illegal :

▪ Charlotte informed on her brother, who was then arrested for drug-dealing.

▪ He categorically denied that he had ever informed on dissidents.

▷ grass British informal /squeal American informal /grɑːsǁgræs, skwiːl/ [intransitive verb]

to tell the police who is responsible for a crime or illegal activity when this seems disloyal :

▪ When we got there the cops were waiting for us. Somebody must have squealed.

grass on

▪ If the others ever found out he’d squealed on them, they’d kill him.

▪ You grassed on us to save your own life.

grass somebody up

▪ I don’t trust her -- what if she grasses us up?

▷ talk /tɔːk/ [intransitive verb]

to give the police information about a crime that you know about or are involved in, especially when they are questioning you officially about it :

▪ The suspect was questioned for two hours, but refused to talk.

▪ He said he’d come back and kill me if I talked.

▷ blow the whistle /ˌbləʊ ðə ˈwɪs ə l/ [verb phrase]

to let people know about an illegal activity which has been happening for a long time, especially when you have been helping to keep it secret :

▪ He was shot because he knew too much and was about to blow the whistle.

blow the whistle about

▪ It was the factory manager who eventually blew the whistle about the pollution scandal.

blow the whistle on

▪ We’d better get her before she has a chance to blow the whistle on us.

▷ tip off /ˌtɪp ˈɒf/ [transitive phrasal verb]

to give the police or another authority information that will allow them to prevent a crime taking place :

tip off somebody

▪ Somebody must have tipped off the police. They were already waiting at the house.

▪ The alert was started by another inmate who tipped off prison staff.

tip somebody off

▪ I wonder who tipped them off.

tip somebody off that

▪ His contact had not merely tipped him off that drugs were on the premises, he had told him where to look.

▷ name names /ˌneɪm ˈneɪmz/ [verb phrase]

to make public the names of people who have done something wrong :

▪ If you don’t give me the money, I’m going to start naming names.

▪ Someone -- I won’t name names -- has been caught stealing from the stores.

▷ nark especially British, informal /narc especially American, informal /nɑːʳk/ [intransitive verb]

to secretly tell the police or someone in authority about someone else’s criminal activity, especially activities involving illegal drugs :

▪ ‘How’d they get caught?’ ‘Somebody must’ve narked.’

nark on

▪ If things get too risky, Ken’ll probably narc on you to the cops.

10. someone who gives information to the police

▷ informer/informant /ɪnˈfɔːʳməʳ, ɪnˈfɔːʳmənt/ [countable noun]

someone who is part of or closely connected with a criminal organization but who secretly tells the police about its activities :

▪ An informer had warned police about the bombing.

police informer/informant

▪ The three men were released on condition that they became police informants.

▷ grass /grɑːsǁgræs/ [countable noun] British informal

someone who secretly gives the police information about someone who is responsible for a crime, in return for money, when this seems disloyal :

▪ I wouldn’t inform on you -- I’m no grass.

▷ nark especially British, informal /narc especially American, informal /nɑːʳk/ [countable noun]

someone who is friendly with criminals and who secretly tells the police about their activities, especially activities involving illegal drugs :

▪ I wouldn’t trust that new guy - I think he’s a narc.

▷ stool pigeon /ˈstuːl ˌpɪdʒə̇n/ [countable noun] especially American

a criminal who helps the police to trap other criminals by telling the police about a crime that is going to take place :

▪ How could he ever live with himself after being a stool pigeon?

▷ source /sɔːʳs/ [countable noun]

someone who gives information to the police, a newspaper etc, especially someone who does not want their name to be known :

▪ It’s the first duty of a journalist to protect his or her sources not say who they are .

▪ Our source informed us that there was a possibility of another attack the following week, possibly in the central London area.

11. to tell someone something that was a secret

▷ tell /tel/ [intransitive/transitive verb]

to tell someone something that should be kept secret :

▪ What did she say? Tell me!

▪ If someone asked me to keep a secret I would never tell.

tell somebody where/what/who etc

▪ He didn’t tell me where he got this information.

tell somebody about something

▪ Don’t tell anyone about this just yet.

tell somebody a secret

▪ Come here Eva - let me tell you a secret.

tell somebody something in the strictest confidence

tell someone something on the condition that they do not tell anyone

▪ I’m telling you this in the strictest confidence, so not a word to anyone.

▷ reveal /rɪˈviːl/ [transitive verb] especially written

to let people know about something that was previously kept secret :

▪ The company has just revealed its plans for the coming year, including the opening of new offices in Paris.

▪ What actually happened to the gold has never been revealed.

reveal (that)

▪ Markov revealed that he had once worked for the CIA.

▪ Ginsberg withdrew his application to become Attorney General after it was revealed that he had smoked marijuana at college.

▷ disclose /dɪsˈkləʊz/ [transitive verb]

to publicly reveal something such as a fact or a name that has been kept secret or hidden :

▪ The agent does not have to disclose the amount his client paid.

disclose that

▪ In the report it was disclosed that neither pilot nor controller had any experience of the radar system in use at the time of the crash.

disclose information/details/evidence etc

▪ The Security Service is unlikely to disclose any information.

disclose somebody’s identity

say who someone is

▪ He refused to disclose the identity of the politician.

disclosure /dɪsˈkləʊʒəʳ/ [countable/uncountable noun]

▪ Investors were shocked by the disclosure when it was disclosed that the company director had been spending millions on luxury yachts and villas.

▷ make something public /ˌmeɪk something ˈpʌblɪk/ [verb phrase]

to make a piece of important information known to the public, especially after keeping it secret for some time :

▪ The Senator will make his decision public on Friday.

▪ Reporters learned the news on Friday but agreed not to make it public until the following day.

make it public that

▪ Freddie Mercury died only two days after making it public that he was suffering from AIDS.

▷ divulge /daɪˈvʌldʒ, də̇-/ [transitive verb] formal

to give someone some very important and often personal information which was previously secret or unknown :

▪ The other three companies refused to divulge their plans.

divulge what/where/when etc

▪ I’m afraid I cannot divulge what Jameson said to me.

divulge something to somebody

▪ The contract forbids employees to divulge details of this work to anyone outside the company.

▷ expose /ɪkˈspəʊz/ [transitive verb]

to tell the public about the secret activities of a person or organization, because you think that people ought to know about something morally wrong that is being done :

▪ Her criminal activities were finally exposed in the Washington Post by political columnist Richard McCallum.

expose to

▪ They threatened to expose him to the media unless he changed his ways.

▷ leak /liːk/ [transitive verb]

to deliberately give secret government information to a newspaper or television company :

▪ A man was charged today with leaking official secrets.

▪ The Congressman was furious that the report had been leaked.

leak something to somebody

▪ The contents of the fax were leaked to the press

leak [countable noun]

▪ The scandal began with a leak to ‘The Times’.

▷ spill the beans /ˌspɪl ðə ˈbiːnz/ [verb phrase] informal

to tell someone about something that has been planned and was supposed to be a secret :

▪ ‘Does Phillip know about our plan?’ ‘Yes, someone must have spilled the beans.’

▪ The class managed to keep the party a secret until Lorraine, unable to control herself any longer, spilled the beans.

▷ let somebody in on /ˌlet somebody ˈɪn ɒn/ [transitive phrasal verb] informal

to tell someone about a secret plan or idea so that they are involved in it, especially because you trust them :

▪ We’ll let you in on our plan if you promise to keep it a secret.

▪ I know you’re up to something so you might as well let me in on it.

▷ blab /blæb/ [intransitive verb] informal

to tell someone a secret - use this when you disapprove of this :

▪ OK I’ll tell you, but you’d better not blab!

blab about

▪ She went and blabbed about Ernie’s surprise party.

blab to

▪ Better not say anything about it to Mickey -- he’ll just end up blabbing to someone.

12. to accidentally tell someone a secret

▷ let slip /ˌlet ˈslɪp/ [verb phrase]

let slip that

▪ Alex let slip that he had spoken to Julie on the phone and knew where she was.

let slip something/let something slip

▪ He inadvertently let slip the name of their new product.

▷ let the cat out of the bag /let ðə ˌkæt aʊt əv ðə ˈbæg/ [verb phrase] informal

to accidentally tell someone something that allows them to guess a secret :

▪ I’m sorry. Jim knows about last week’s party. I’m afraid I let the cat out of the bag.

▪ Some idiot’s let the cat out of the bag -- Mrs Simpson realizes there’s something going on.

▷ give the game away British /give the whole thing away American informal /ˌgɪv ðə ˈgeɪm əˌweɪ, ˌgɪv ðə ˌhəʊl θɪŋ əˈweɪ/ [verb phrase]

to accidentally say something or do something that makes someone guess a secret :

▪ Don’t mention Dad’s birthday or you’ll give the game away.

▪ If you don’t want to give the whole thing away, take that stupid smile off your face!

13. to deliberately not tell someone a secret

▷ not tell anyone /nɒt tel ˈeniwʌn/ [verb phrase]

▪ I’m leaving next month to start another job, but don’t tell anyone just yet.

▪ She knew she had cancer, but she didn’t tell anyone.

▷ keep something (a) secret /ˌkiːp something (ə) ˈsiːkrə̇t/ [verb phrase]

to not tell other people about something or not let them find out about it :

▪ He said it was vital to keep Operation Beehive secret.

▪ It was impossible for the affair to be kept secret.

keep sth (a) secret from

▪ At first I tried to keep my illness a secret from my wife.

▷ not breathe a word/not tell a soul /nɒt ˌbriːð ə ˈwɜːʳd, nɒt ˌtel ə ˈsəʊl/ [verb phrase]

to not tell anyone anything at all about something, because it is very important that no one knows about it :

▪ It’s supposed to be a big surprise, so don’t breathe a word.

▪ Don’t worry, I won’t tell a soul about any of this.

▷ keep quiet /ˌkiːp ˈkwaɪət/ [verb phrase]

to not tell anyone about something that you know is happening, especially something that other people would disapprove of because it is slightly illegal or unfair :

keep quiet about

▪ I wish I’d kept quiet about the money.

▪ We’d better keep quiet about this for now.

keep it quiet

▪ We can give you a 10% raise, but not the others -- so keep it quiet, won’t you?

▷ keep something to yourself /ˌkiːp something tə jɔːʳˈself/ [verb phrase]

to not tell other people something that someone has told you, or something that you have found out about :

▪ Don’t tell Sam -- he’s incapable of keeping anything to himself.

▪ Branson knew who the killer was, but had kept it to himself for twenty years.

▷ keep something from /ˈkiːp something frɒm somebody/ [transitive phrasal verb]

to deliberately not tell someone something that you know, especially because you are worried about telling them, or because it might upset them :

▪ If a patient is dying, I don’t think doctors have a right to keep it from them.

▪ I’ve tried to ask her what’s worrying her, but she says it’s nothing. I’m sure she’s keeping something from me.

▷ keep back /ˌkiːp ˈbæk/ [transitive phrasal verb]

to not tell someone certain facts about something when telling them everything else about it :

keep something back

▪ I got the feeling he was keeping something back.

keep back something

▪ Although most of the facts were published the government kept back certain details that might prove embarrassing.

keep something back from somebody/keep back something from somebody

▪ I must now confess something which I kept back from you earlier.

14. to not tell someone something they want to know

▷ withhold /wɪðˈhəʊld, wɪθ-/ [transitive verb]

to not give information, especially when you have been officially asked to do so :

withhold information/evidence/facts etc

▪ Civil servants should be as helpful as possible, and withhold information only in the interests of national security.

▪ When the article was published, I asked for my name to be withheld.

withhold from

▪ He was accused of withholding vital evidence from the police.

▷ hold out on /ˌhəʊld ˈaʊt ɒn/ [transitive phrasal verb] informal

to refuse to give someone the information that they want, even though they keep asking you :

▪ We all feel that members of the Medical Research Council are holding out on us.

▪ Why are you holding out on me like this? I’m your lawyer and I need to know what happened.

▷ not give anything away /nɒt gɪv ˌeniθɪŋ əˈweɪ/ [verb phrase]

to not tell anyone anything about something, especially about your plans or intentions, when they are asking about them or are very interested to know about them :

▪ I asked Teresa if she thought she and Liam would get married, but she wouldn’t give anything away.

▪ Whatever the England manager’s plans are for tonight, he’s not giving anything away.

▷ not/never let on /nɒt, ˌnevəʳ let ˈɒn/ [verb phrase]

to not tell someone a secret, especially when they are asking you questions about a subject connected with that secret :

▪ Don’t worry -- I won’t let on.

not/never let on about

▪ She never let on about her boyfriend’s criminal past.

15. ways of asking someone to tell you something

▷ tell me /ˈtel miː/ spoken :

▪ Tell me Caroline, do you trust me?

tell me where/when/how etc

▪ Tell me where you left the money.

▪ Come in and tell me what the problem is.

tell me about

▪ Tell me about Thursday night. Did you visit Mrs Berry?

tell me something

▪ Tell me a little about yourself.

▷ out with it/spit it out /ˈaʊt wɪð ɪt, ˌspɪt ɪt ˈaʊt/ spoken

say this when you are annoyed or angry because someone has not told you something :

▪ I know there’s something you’re not telling us, so out with it!

▪ His name, Cathy, his name! Out with it!

▪ What have you done? Come on -- spit it out!

▪ Are you implying something? Spit it out then!

16. to make someone not tell anyone about something

▷ swear somebody to secrecy /ˌsweəʳ somebody tə ˈsiːkrəsi/ [verb phrase]

to make someone seriously promise that they will not tell anyone about something you have told them or something that they know about :

▪ ‘What’s she doing here?’ ‘I’d better not say. She swore me to secrecy.’

▪ Nobody knows much about the organization because its members are all sworn to secrecy.

▷ between you and me /bɪˌtwiːn ˌjuː ən ˈmiː/ [adverb] spoken

used when you are telling someone that what you are saying is a secret, and you do not want them to tell anyone else about it :

▪ Between you and me, I think Elizabeth is a bit of a nightmare.

17. to tell someone to do something

▷ tell /tel/ [transitive verb]

▪ ‘Wait here!’ he told the children.

tell somebody to do something

▪ The teacher told us to be quiet.

▪ I thought I told you to be in bed by 10 o'clock!

tell somebody not to do something

▪ She told him not to phone her again.

tell somebody (that)

▪ The doctors have told me that I should give up smoking.

tell somebody how/what/where etc

▪ Don’t tell me how to behave in public!

▪ I’m in charge here, and I’m not going to have anyone telling me what to do.

do as you are told

used to tell children to obey

▪ Do as you’re told and go and wash your hands.

▷ order /ˈɔːʳdəʳ/ [transitive verb]

to tell someone to do something in a threatening way :

▪ ‘Don’t move’, he ordered.

order somebody to do something

▪ A man with a gun ordered the woman to give him all her money.

▪ He was ordered to pay £4000 towards the court costs of £10,000.

order somebody out of/into/back etc

▪ She pointed her gun at him, ordering him out of the room.

▷ ask somebody to do something /ˌɑːsk somebody tə ˈduː something ǁˌæsk-/ [verb phrase]

to tell someone politely but firmly to do something or to stop doing something :

▪ Mr Evans, I must ask you to come with me to the police station.

ask somebody not to do something

▪ Would you ask visitors not to park their cars in front of the entrance.

▷ demand /dɪˈmɑːndǁdɪˈmænd/ [transitive verb]

to tell someone that they must do something, especially when you are angry or impatient and want them to do it immediately :

demand (that)

▪ You should demand that they finish the job now, not some time in August.

▪ Realizing that her husband had deceived her, she demanded that he tell her the whole truth.

demand an apology/a refund etc

tell someone that they must say they are sorry, give money back etc

▪ How dare you say that! I demand an apology.

▷ insist /ɪnˈsɪst/ [intransitive/transitive verb]

to tell someone firmly and repeatedly that they must do something, especially something that they do not want to do :

▪ I didn’t want to tell dad about the fight, but he insisted.

insist (that)

▪ I wanted to pay by cheque but the landlord insisted that I pay him in cash.

▪ They’re insisting we report the matter to the police right away.

▷ dictate /dɪkˈteɪtǁˈdɪkteɪt/ [intransitive verb]

to tell someone exactly what they must do or how they must behave, as if you had power to make them obey you :

dictate to

▪ She refused to be dictated to by some stupid official in Washington.

dictate how/what/where etc

▪ Your parents have no right to dictate how you should spend your money.

18. to officially tell someone to do something

▷ order /ˈɔːʳdəʳ/ [transitive verb]

▪ Only the king has the power to order her release from prison.

▪ After the accident the government ordered a full public enquiry.

order somebody to do something

▪ The colonel ordered his men to advance.

▪ He was ordered to pay a total of £65 compensation.

order that

▪ The court ordered that Gilmore should be executed.

order somebody into/out of/back etc

▪ It wasn’t until 1973 that Nixon finally ordered US troops out of Vietnam.

▷ instruct /ɪnˈstrʌkt/ [transitive verb]

to officially tell someone to do something, especially when you tell them exactly how it should be done :

instruct somebody to do something

▪ It is a good idea to instruct a specialist company to inspect the property for damp.

▪ One of the secretaries had been instructed to reserve me a seat on the next plane to London.

as instructed

in the way that you have been instructed

▪ She took the tablets three times every day, as instructed by her doctor.

▷ give orders/instructions /gɪv ˈɔːʳdəʳz, ɪnˈstrʌkʃ ə nz/ [verb phrase]

if someone such as a leader or officer gives orders or gives instructions, they tell other people exactly what they must do :

give orders/instructions to do something

▪ It was the police chief who had given orders to shoot.

give orders/instructions that

▪ The doctor left after giving instructions that she should rest as much as possible.

give somebody orders/instructions

▪ The General has given them orders to bomb the city.

give (somebody) strict instructions

▪ We were given strict instructions that nobody should be allowed in the building without a security card.

▷ issue orders/instructions /ˌɪʃuː ˈɔːʳdəʳz, ɪnˈstrʌkʃ ə nz/ [verb phrase]

if someone such as a leader or officer issues orders or issues instructions, they tell people exactly what they should do, especially by sending a written statement :

▪ The EC plans to issue orders banning the sale of the drug.

issue orders/instructions that

▪ The Department of Defense has issued instructions that no one should enter the area without permission.

▷ decree /dɪˈkriː/ [transitive verb]

if a government, parliament, or court decrees that something should happen, they officially order it by making a law or by changing the existing law :

▪ The government decreed a ban on all contact with the guerrillas by local and provincial government officials.

decree (that)

▪ In 1929 Parliament decreed that all women should have the right to vote.

▷ command /kəˈmɑːndǁkəˈmænd/ [transitive verb]

if someone such as a king or a military officer commands someone to do something, they tell them officially that they must do it :

command somebody to do something

▪ Admiral Boyle commanded the entire crew to assemble on deck.

command that

▪ The King had the power to command that parliament be dissolved.

▷ direct somebody to do something /dɪˌrekt , dəˌrekt somebody tə ˈduː something/ [verb phrase]

if someone in a position of legal authority such as a judge directs someone to do something, they order them to do it :

▪ The judge directed the jury to find her not guilty.

▪ He was jailed for refusing to answer questions when directed to do so in court.

▷ subpoena /səˈpiːnə, səb-/ [countable noun]

to officially order someone to appear in a court of law in order to answer questions - used in legal contexts :

▪ If you refuse to attend the trial we can always get you subpoenaed.

▪ Another three of the president’s advisors were subpoenaed.

19. to tell someone to come to you

▷ send for /ˈsend fɔːʳ/ [transitive phrasal verb]

to send someone a message ordering them to come to you :

▪ We’d better send for a doctor -- I think she’s badly hurt.

▪ She was sent for by the headteacher in her office.

▷ summon /ˈsʌmən/ [transitive verb]

to officially order someone to come to you :

▪ President Clinton summoned his top White House aides to discuss the crisis.

summon to

▪ The Colonel had summoned him to Cancun for the meeting at the Rena Victoria Hotel.

summon somebody to appear

summon them to a court of law

▪ I’ve been summoned to appear at Guildford Magistrates Court on June 1st.

20. to change an order that someone has given

▷ override /ˌəʊvəˈraɪd/ [transitive verb]

to use your power to change an order or decision that was made by someone with less power than you :

▪ Congress has the power to override the President’s veto.

▪ Churchill issued a new order overriding previous instructions.

▷ overrule /ˌəʊvəˈruːl/ [transitive verb]

to use your power to change an order or decision, especially one made by a court of law or by a military leader, because you think it is wrong :

▪ After seeing new evidence the judge overruled the court’s original decision.

▪ A general commanding American troops on the battlefield found himself overruled by politicians back in Washington.

21. ways of saying that you have been ordered to do something

▷ on somebody’s orders/instructions /ɒn somebodyˈs ˈɔːʳdəʳz, ɪnˈstrʌkʃ ə nz/ [adverb]

if you do something on someone’s orders, or on someone’s instructions, you do it because they have officially told you to do it :

▪ On the instructions of the new military government, soldiers burned books and other documents.

acting on somebody’s orders/instructions

doing what someone has told you to do

▪ Sergeant Dean claims that he was acting on the orders of the police chief.

▷ under orders/instructions /ˌʌndər ˈɔːʳdəʳz, ɪnˈstrʌkʃ ə nz/ [adverb]

if someone is under orders or under instructions to do something, they have been officially ordered to do it as part of their duty by the person they are working for :

under orders/instructions to do something

▪ I am under instructions not to tell you the name of the person who has sent you the money.

▪ The soldiers are under strict orders to abide by the ceasefire.

acting under orders/instructions

▪ State troopers acting under orders from the Mayor of Los Angeles have put down the riots.

▷ at somebody’s insistence /ət somebodyˈs ɪnˈsɪst ə ns/ [adverb]

if you do something at someone’s insistence, you do it because they have firmly and repeatedly said that you must, even though you may not want to :

▪ At Joanna’s insistence we stayed the night at her house.

▪ I took a local guide with me at the insistence of the government authorities.

22. a statement telling someone to do something

▷ order /ˈɔːʳdəʳ/ [countable noun]

an official statement ordering you to do something, given by someone with the power to do this, especially a military officer :

▪ We are still waiting for orders from HQ.

obey/disobey an order

▪ The commander’s orders must be obeyed at all times.

▪ Anyone who disobeys this order will be punished.

that’s an order

used to tell someone that they must definitely do something

▪ You will report to me at eight o'clock in the morning -- and that’s an order.

give (somebody) an order

▪ I’m the one who gives the orders around here -- just remember that.

order to do something

▪ General Bradley gave the order to advance.

somebody’s orders

the orders someone has been given

▪ My orders are to take you to the airport and put you on the first plane to Paris.

take orders from somebody

obey someone

▪ I’m not taking orders from you!

on somebody’s orders

because of someone’s order

▪ On Stalin’s orders, the target for the 5 year plan was raised once again.

▷ instructions /ɪnˈstrʌkʃ ə ns/ [plural noun]

a statement telling someone what they must do, usually giving them details of how they should do it :

▪ Mr Patel’s instructions are to phone him immediately if you get any news from the police.

instructions to do something

▪ Scott has just received instructions to return to Washington.

instructions on

▪ We were given instructions on what to do in an emergency.

instructions that

▪ Mrs Edwards left instructions that in the event of her death the money was to be shared between her sons.

follow/obey instructions

▪ If you’d followed my instructions carefully none of this would have happened.

detailed instructions

▪ The boss won’t be here tomorrow, but she’s left you detailed instructions so you’ll know exactly what to do.

strict instructions

▪ Sometimes my mother visits me at work, although I have given her strict instructions not to do so.

somebody’s instructions

instructions someone has been given

▪ My instructions were to give the package to him personally.

▷ command /kəˈmɑːndǁkəˈmænd/ [countable noun]

an official order by someone such as a king or a military officer which must be obeyed :

▪ An officer stood on one of the tanks and began shouting commands through a loudspeaker.

obey/disobey a command

▪ If any of the King’s subjects refused to obey one of his commands, they were put to death.

give the command to do something

▪ Admiral Collingwood gave the command to open fire.

▷ directive /dɪˈrektɪv, dəˈrektɪv, daɪ-/ [countable noun]

an official order which is made by a powerful organization and has the effect of a law :

▪ Article 10 of the directive requires all food to be clearly labelled.

under a directive

as a result of a directive

▪ Under an EC directive unleaded petrol must be made available throughout Britain.

▷ decree /dɪˈkriː/ [countable/uncountable noun]

an official order which has the effect of a law and is made by someone such as a king, queen, or military government :

issue a decree

send out a decree

▪ In 1637 the Emperor issued a decree ordering all foreigners to leave the country.

by decree

by making decrees

▪ The king dissolved parliament and ruled by decree.

23. to give orders in a rude, unpleasant way

▷ order somebody around also order somebody about British /ˌɔːʳdəʳ somebody əˈraʊnd, ˌɔːʳdəʳ somebody əˈbaʊt/ [transitive phrasal verb]

if someone orders you around or orders you about, they keep telling you what to do in an annoying or unfair way, and they seem to enjoy it :

▪ You won’t get the best out of your staff by ordering them around like that.

▪ I wish you’d stop ordering me about -- I’m not your servant you know.

▷ push somebody around /ˌpʊʃ somebody əˈraʊnd/ [transitive phrasal verb]

to order someone to do things in a rude, impatient, and often threatening way :

▪ I’m sick and tired of being pushed around by him.

▪ You shouldn’t let other people push you around -- you’ve got to stand up for yourself.

▷ boss somebody around also boss somebody about British /ˌbɒs somebody əˈraʊnd, ˌbɒs somebody əˈbaʊtǁˌbɔːs-/ [transitive phrasal verb]

to keep giving someone orders in an annoying way, even though you have no authority to do so :

▪ My brother’s always bossing me around and making me clean up after him.

▪ She’s a strong-minded woman -- she doesn’t let anyone boss her around.

▷ lay down the law /ˌleɪ daʊn ðə ˈlɔː/ [verb phrase]

to tell people what they should do in an annoying way because you enjoy giving orders and think that you are always right :

▪ If Bob starts laying down the law, just tell him to shut up.

▷ throw your weight around /ˌθrəʊ jɔːʳ ˈweɪt əˌraʊnd/ [verb phrase]

to use your position of authority to tell other people what to do, in an unreasonable way :

▪ She likes to throw her weight around -- it makes her feel important.

▪ Why is everyone so upset? Has George been throwing his weight around again?

24. enjoying telling people what to do

▷ bossy /ˈbɒsiǁˈbɔːsi/ [adjective]

always telling people what to do, especially when you have no authority to do so :

▪ She found Molly to be bossy and interfering.

▪ ‘You can’t wear that hat,’ said Monica in her usual bossy voice.

▷ dictatorial /ˌdɪktəˈtɔːriəl◂/ [adjective]

someone who is dictatorial uses their power in an unreasonable way by always telling people what to do or what is correct, and ignoring their wishes or views :

▪ His attitude has become increasingly dictatorial.

▪ The Ministry of Trade was yesterday accused of being dictatorial in its plans for a new motorway in Kent.

▷ officious /əˈfɪʃəs/ [adjective]

someone who is officious, especially an unimportant official, is too eager to tell people what they must do and pays too much attention to unimportant rules :

▪ The people at the tax department were very officious, and kept everyone waiting for hours while they checked their papers.

▪ I got held up by an officious receptionist who wouldn’t let me in until I’d answered all her questions.

▷ overbearing /ˌəʊvəʳˈbe ə rɪŋ/ [adjective]

someone who is overbearing has an unpleasant and threatening manner, as if they want to control you and expect to be obeyed, and refuses to listen to other people’s opinions and arguments :

▪ The manager can be very overbearing at times, and it’s difficult to argue with him.

▪ His wife felt stifled in the presence of her overbearing mother-in-law.

Longman Activator English vocab.      Английский словарь Longman активатор .