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What does "don't tell it to nobody" mean?

does it mean "tell it to everyone"?

And Grammar says

GRAMMAR: Negatives Don’t use nothing with another negative word such as ‘not’. Use anything. You say: I could not find anything suitable. ✗Don’t say: I could not find nothing suitable.

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If you were to parse the sentence literally, that's what it would mean. (Or perhaps tell it to anyone or tell it to someone.)

However, in reality, it's a kind of double-negative slang.

What it really means, idiomatically, is:

Don't tell (it to) anyone.


It's the same kind of informal expression as:

I didn't do nothing.

This expression, despite its literal meaning, is actually used to express:

I didn't do anything.


In this context, nobody and nothing don't have their normal meaning; instead, they are used as a way to increase the emphasis on the negative.

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    I want to upvote but that rep is just so cool. – user178049 Jul 8 at 2:42
  • @user178049 LOL I didn't even notice. (I'm sure it won't stay at 22,222 much longer.) – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Jul 8 at 2:43
  • but GRAMMAR says: Negatives Don’t use nothing with another negative word such as ‘not’. Use anything. You say: I could not find anything suitable. ✗Don’t say: I could not find nothing suitable. ldoceonline.com/dictionary/nothing – Tom Jul 8 at 3:25
  • @Tom This use of double negative is non-standard (ie. ungrammatical in the standard English). So that capitalized 'grammar' plays no role in this case. The sentence is already ungrammatical, but it's a kind of construction that you will always hear in non-standard varieties. That's why, as already pointed out, it should be considered slang. – user178049 Jul 8 at 3:45
  • This is usually a colloquial construction - commonly seen in gangster movies – Smock Jul 8 at 9:07

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