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What's the difference between "give out" and "give away" as in telling someone the truth or giving someone the information accidentally?

2 Answers 2

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In the U.K. we don't "give out the truth" but we might:

disseminate information (either the truth or indeed falsehoods)

also we only ever "give away" the indefinite article, for instance:

Mark told Phillipa about the mistake he made. He's given it away now!

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To this US English speaker, give out implies distributing something widely, whereas give away sounds more like it refers to just one incident or person. Loosely, give away = "make something known", but give out = "distribute".

For example,

During the interview, the director gave away the secret ending of the movie.

but not

During the interview, the director gave out the secret ending of the movie.

But

The guard gave out the password to anyone who asked for it.

sounds more natural than

The guard gave away the password to anyone who asked for it.

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