true stripes: Idiom Meaning and Origin

What does ‘true stripes’ mean?

The idiom "true stripes" refers to someone's real character or true nature. It signifies seeing through superficial appearances and recognizing someone's genuine qualities or intentions.

Idiom Explorer

Cracking the Code

"True stripes" is a commonly used idiom in American English that means to reveal one's true character or nature. This expression originates from the behavior of animals such as zebras and tigers, which have distinct coat patterns. When animals with stripes reveal their true colors, it symbolizes the exposure of their true identity. Similarly, when someone shows their true stripes, it means that their true intentions, beliefs, or qualities have become apparent.

The idiom "true stripes" has gained popularity and is widely used in literature, verbal communication, and media. It is often employed in a figurative sense to describe situations in which someone's true self or motivations are revealed. This can refer to both positive and negative aspects of a person's character. For instance, if an individual initially appears friendly and kind, but later turns out to be deceitful or manipulative, they are said to have shown their true stripes.

The zebra has true stripes.

The concept of "showing one's true stripes" is deeply rooted in the idea that appearances can be deceiving. Just like zebras and tigers, whose stripes serve as a visual cue to their identity, we too have our own metaphorical stripes. These stripes represent our unique qualities, values, and beliefs. When we reveal our true stripes, we allow others to see who we really are.

It is important to note that showing one's true stripes can be both empowering and vulnerable. On one hand, it can be liberating to let go of pretenses and authentically express ourselves. On the other hand, it can also make us feel exposed and susceptible to judgment. However, embracing our true stripes is a powerful act of self-acceptance and can lead to genuine connections and understanding with others.

Another related idiom to consider is "show color." This phrase shares a similar meaning to "show one's true stripes" and is used to describe a situation where someone reveals their true intentions or motivations. Both idioms highlight the importance of transparency and authenticity in relationships and interactions. When individuals show color, they are allowing others to see their true selves, without any hidden agendas or ulterior motives.

The idiom "true stripes" is commonly used in American English to describe someone revealing their true character or nature. It originates from the behavior of animals with distinct coat patterns, such as zebras and tigers. The metaphorical meaning of "showing one's true stripes" emphasizes the idea of transparency and authenticity in our interactions with others. This idiom is often used to discuss situations where someone's true intentions or qualities become apparent. Additionally, the related idiom "show color" shares a similar meaning, further highlighting the importance of being genuine in our relationships.

Example usage

Examples of how the idiom "true stripes" can be used in a sentence:

  1. She had always been a loyal friend, but when she revealed her true stripes by betraying her best friend, everyone was shocked.
  2. After working together for years, his colleagues finally saw his true stripes when he took credit for their hard work.
  3. The politician seemed genuine during the campaign, but once elected, he showed his true stripes by engaging in corrupt practices.

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