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I wonder what is the informal substitute for "reveal" in my following similar examples:

Scenario 1)

As he said to me, he was the only witness to the murder of Frank's brother. He was the only one who knew where they had hid. And I bet he revealed their hiding place to the police.

Scenario 2)

Once, they used to be close friends until they entered into manufacturing and selling methamphetamine partnership. They earned a lot of money soon, but when it came to their biggest trade ever, their rival revealed them to the police.

Note: in my second case, I mean not their "hiding place" or "where they manufactured drugs", but "their business and their illegal actions".]

  • 1) "gave up their hiding place to the police" 2) "ratted them out", or "ratted them out to police" – Lorel C. Jul 3 '19 at 14:40
  • Ratted out, tipped off, narced, spilled the beans, snitched – Luck Jul 3 '19 at 16:51
  • I cannot follow you @Luck! You're about which case? – A-friend Jul 3 '19 at 16:55
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Scenario 1 seems relatively normal, in the usage presented. If you were looking to make it slightly less formal, I would probably just stick with told:

  • And I bet he told the police.

There are certainly some very informal verbs to describe Scenario 2, particularly if you are looking for casual spoken English, rather than written English.

Two I can think of, off-hand, are to grass or to snitch, which are specifically used to express disdain for the person who revealed the information. To grass has idiomatic uses, i.e. to grass on someone or to grass someone up (I don't know why on and up are used here). To snitch also uses the idiom to snitch on someone (but I've not seen the equivalent to snitch someone up):

  • He grassed on me, to the police
  • He grassed me up to the police
  • He grassed Frank up to the police
  • Their rival grassed them up to the police
  • He snitched on me to the police
  • He snitched on Frank to the police
  • Their rival snitched to the police

To grass is probably more idiomatic British English; while to snitch is probably more idiomatic American English.

More formally, the verb, to inform might be used:

  • He informed the police of the hiding place
  • Their rival informed the police of the upcoming deal

The use of the nouns, grass, snitch or informant, may imply that this is something that the revealer has done either for money or to soften a punishment for their own transgressions, rather than for moral obligations – hence the disdain.

  • He is/was an informant
  • He is/was a grass
  • He is/was a snitch
  • Their rival is/was an informant
  • Their rival is/was a grass
  • Their rival is/was a snitch
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    You can also say "he informed on them". – Lorel C. Jul 3 '19 at 14:42
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    @A-friend : The literal phrase "tell on to the police" doesn't work, you have to "tell on Frank to the police". The verb to tell is legitimate, but there is something specifically juvenile to the term -- children tell on someone (e.g. to the teacher, or to their mother); criminals grass or snitch. – jimbobmcgee Jul 3 '19 at 15:12
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    I wouldn't use "snitch on their hiding place". I would know what you meant if you did, but it doesn't feel right. I commonly associate grassing/snitching/telling as someting you do to a person not a place. – jimbobmcgee Jul 3 '19 at 15:14
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    @A-friend I would never use "tell on" except in connection with a child, or possibly if i were metaphorically describing an adult as a child. "Tell on" like "naughty" or "grounded" has a very strong connotation of childish action and parental reaction. I would not use it about an adult. "Grass" (in the sense of "tell the police") I have only encountered in fiction set in the UK, and used there as slang from the POV of a criminal, much as "snitch" is used in the US. – David Siegel Jul 3 '19 at 17:56
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    @A-friend : I've already discussed "tell on" with you, as has David. Use tell on when you are talking about children revealing to parents or teachers (see also, dob in, tattle on); don't use it for criminals revealing to police. – jimbobmcgee Jul 3 '19 at 19:56
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Ratted out, tipped off, narced, spilled the beans, snitched, let it slip

Ratted out - to inform an authority figure (usually police) about illegal activity. Usually used to describe the revealing of all secrets in detail; full disclosure.

He ratted them out to the police.

Frank ratted me out to the cops, he's nothing but a rat!

I'm going to rat out Frank.

Tipped off - to inform someone of something without others knowing. Usually used to describe only a single piece of information (a tip) being revealed. Could be used to denote revealing information anonymously.

He tipped off the police to their location.

Someone must have tipped them off.

My buddy tipped me off about an investment opportunity.

Narc - to inform an authority figure (usually police) about illegal activity, or used to describe someone who agrees to work with the police. Comes from the word narcotics and is usually used with drug related crime.

I'm going to narc on Frank.

Frank narced us all out.

Frank is a narc.

Spilled the beans - used to describe the revealing of all secrets in detail; full disclosure. Not specific to malfeasant behavior.

Frank spilled the beans about our operation.

I'm warning you not to spill the beans about this.

Snitch - to inform an authority figure (usually police) about illegal activity, or used to describe someone who agrees to work with the police.

Frank is a snitch.

Frank snitched on us!

Snitches get stitches. - Used to convey a warning that if you reveal the secret you will be physically harmed.

Let it slip - to reveal a secret. Usually used to describe only a single piece of information being revealed. Often used to denote revealing information accidentally. Not specific to malfeasant behavior.

Frank let it slip that we were there.

Try not to let our plans slip this time.

Tell on - to inform an authority figure (usually a parent, teacher, or boss) about someone's bad behavior. Similar use to the word "tattle".

I saw what you did Frank, I'm going to tell on you.

Frank told on me to the teacher.

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  • Thank you @Luck. Please let me know about "tell on" and its application in my scenarios too. :) – A-friend Jul 3 '19 at 17:55
  • @A-friend Updated – Luck Jul 3 '19 at 18:01
  • Tipped off is a good all-rounder -- I forgot that one! – jimbobmcgee Jul 3 '19 at 19:58
  • Thank you very much @Luck. Just do the verbs "tattle" and "tattletale on someone" both used for childish affairs? – A-friend Jul 4 '19 at 7:02

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