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Women are friends, I once would have said, when they totally love and support and trust one another, and bare to each other the secrets of their souls, and run — no questions asked — to help each other, and tell harsh truths to each other (no, you can’t wear that dress unless you lose ten pounds first) when harsh truths must be told.

Is it an idiom?

And also what does this sentence mean? "and bare to each other the secrets of their souls"

  • It's funny, because the sentence you ask about, "...dress...ten pounds..." is not an idiom, really, but "bare one's soul" is. – Teacher KSHuang Mar 30 '17 at 8:38
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An "idiom" is a phrase that means something more specific than the combination of the literal meanings of the individual words that make it up, or sometimes something totally different. Like if you said, "Help arrived at the eleventh hour", you probably don't mean that help literally arrived 11 hours after the problem began or at eleven o'clock. Rather, "the eleventh hour" is an idiom that means "at the last moment" or "just before it would have been too late".

So "You can't wear that dress until you lose 10 pounds" ... What the speaker means is that you will not look good in that dress. It's probably not that her friend literally could not manage to put the dress on or that some law or custom would prohibit her from wearing the dress. As the stated issue is that she weighs too much, it's possible that she literally could not fit in the dress, but that's not really the point. "You can't wear it" here is an idiom for "you would not look good in it".

To "bare one's soul" is to tell someone else your most personal thoughts and secrets. The soul is the real, inner you, the thoughts and feelings that make you who you are. To "bare" something is to expose it. "Bare metal" means metal that you can actually see, as opposed to it being covered by paint or some such. If you say that someone has "bare legs", that means that he or she is not wearing pants or other clothes that cover their legs -- they're wearing shorts or a skirt. So to "bare one's soul" is to make one's innermost thoughts and feelings visible, that is, to tell someone else what you're thinking. Normally this is said in the context of revealing very personal information, like telling someone about problems in your marriage or that sort of thing. We don't normally say that "he bared his soul and told all about how to repair diesel engines", not unless he's in a culture where repairing diesel engines is a deep dark secret known only to a privileged few.

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you can’t wear that dress unless you lose ten pounds first

That's not exactly an established idiom – at least, not in the word-for-word sense. However, at least in the US, it's not at all uncommon for women to specifically dress sizes when they are really talking about women's bodies.

For example, a recent health book is entitled Drop Two Sizes. In another book entitled Women Who Think Too Much, author Susan Nolen-Hoeksema encouraged women realistic personal goals:

Ease up on your goals so they become more reasonable. Try for a size 10 dress.


bare to each other the secrets of their souls

This simply means that the two people shared their innermost secrets.

Bare something to someone else means expose into the open so someone else can see (or know about) something. When talking about secrets, it's a phrasing you might see in a romantic setting. If I were writing a novel, I might say:

That night, in the moonlight, Jill bared her innermost secrets to Jack.

However, I probably wouldn't say:

The next day, at the construction site, Jack bared his innermost secret to Ernie.

Instead, assuming these two fellows carry metal lunchboxes to work, and drink their coffee black, I might say:

The next day, at the construction site, Jack let Ernie in on a secret.

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no, you can’t wear that dress unless you lose ten pounds first

This sentence means that the speaker is telling someone she is too fat to fit into a specific dress. (Or she might fit into the dress, but it may look ridiculous.)

As for

bare the secrets of their souls

To bare something is to uncover it, to show it. Secrets of their souls are their deep personal secrets, that are normally hidden from other people (that is why we call them secrets...).

Baring those secrets mean that you reveal them.

  • Women are friends, I once would have said, when they share the same affection for Ingmar Bergman, plus train rides, cats, warm rain, charades, Camus, and hate with equal ardor Newark and Brussels sprouts and Lawrence Welk and camping. What does "warm rain" mean? – user3731 Mar 31 '14 at 10:24
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    @IceGirl What does your dictionary say? – Em1 Mar 31 '14 at 10:41
  • warm rain Rain, resulting from the coalescence of droplets, in clouds that are unfrozen (i.e. their upper parts are not at freezing level). – user3731 Mar 31 '14 at 10:42
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    I would assume that warm rain simply means what it says: rain (as in the wet stuff that falls from the sky) at a nice warm temperature. For many people, rain is usually a cold affair, and hugely unpleasant. Try rain in the monsoon season in India - it's actually warm and it can be incredibly pleasant :) – oerkelens Mar 31 '14 at 10:45
  • Maybe they are in a shop and the dress costs £10, they are talking about the cost but you thought she meant lbs. – QuentinUK Mar 31 '14 at 14:30
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no, you can’t wear that dress unless you lose ten pounds first.

That's the harsh truth because it means that the wearer-to-be is fat! And this sentence is told straightforwardly. So, it's harsh (told upfront) and truth (yes, because the wearer-to-be is fat and the dress is too small/tight for that body).

Harsh truth is not exactly an idiom. They are adjective + noun.

bare to each other the secret of their souls

to express secret to each other and trust that the secrets won't be revealed publicly. Read the definition here.

  • Yes. He wrote it in wrong way – user3731 Mar 31 '14 at 10:49

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