I went through several dictionaries and checked the meaning of the word. I'm also familiar with the headlines in dailies; for instance, Someone exposed as his servant reveals the truth. or Someone exposed her curvacious body in a dark brown gown on the red carpet.

But then, can it be used this way?

2013's Best HGH Supplements Exposed - Check meta title of this page.

Note: I know such websites are not reliable for their language in content. But I'm just asking, is it possible to use the word exposed to mean revealed? Here, the author wants to say that The list of best HGH supplements in 2013 revealed.

Can anything be exposed positively? If I go by books, it is possible but then my mind does not believe it!

The word exposed is influenced by Latin expositus meaning 'put or set out' and in this sense, I can certainly expose top 10 software companies of the world. But does it mean I revealed a bitter truth about those fraud companies or simply revealed the companies those were not known before?

4 Answers 4


It is true that expose is primarily used in sentences with negative implications as you show in your question: I think that probably the only exception is when it is used with the meaning:

  • to present to view; exhibit

    Especially if used as a noun exposition

  • A public exhibition or show, as of artistic or industrial developments.

  • Other examples with neutral implications from the Oxford dictionaries: "at low tide the sands are exposed", "In the traditional darkroom, a photographer makes a print by projecting light through the original piece of film, which exposes the paper"...
    – Nico
    May 9, 2014 at 17:01
  • There also exist some positive connotations like "expose to new ideas".
    – Alexander
    May 9, 2014 at 17:38
  • @Nico Also, when the photographer takes photographs, he is exposing film. May 9, 2014 at 20:53

Does expose always have a negative connotation? I think it doesn't.

However! Should it be used this way: 2013's Best HGH Supplements Exposed, where the exposé or whatever being exposed there seems to be good news?

I think we should not. And, as you suggested, revealed is a better word choice.

According to Macmillan, the usage in your example fits sense 3:

 3. to deliberately make something publicly known because you believe that it is wrong or illegal
    The press helped to expose the appalling living conditions of the farm workers.
    expose someone/something as something: The videotape of the meeting exposed him as thoroughly corrupt (=showed that he was corrupt).

However, I believe that these following senses don't carry any negative connotation.

  • sense 2: to allow something that is usually covered or hidden to be seen
  • sense 4: to provide someone with the opportunity to experience new ideas activities, etc. so that they can learn about them
  • sense 5: to allow light to reach the film in a camera so that you can take a photograph

In my opinion, sense 4 even carries a positive one! Also, as language learners, we all need to be exposed to the languages we want to learn, the more the better. For me, that is a good thing. ;-)


I actually think that what you're seeing in the example "2013's Best HGH Supplements Exposed" is some psychologically canny ad-craft. I think the word "exposed" was chosen for both its negative and sexual connotations, even though it then makes the sentence make less sense. I think the copywriter (ad creator) very cannily chose that word to make the headline seem salacious, and to thus intrigue the reader into clicking the link; it seems to imply that "2013's Best HGH Supplements" were a secret that was being kept from the reader, a conspiracy against ordinary people, and which the poster of the ad is oh so generously letting the reader in on.

It is reasonable to assume that the language of any popular ad was honed by A/B testing of what actually got more viewers to click through, and it may be that the more effective ad was a less grammatical one.

Advertisements, from an English language usage standpoint, should best be understood as a perverted form of poetry.


Often it does have a slightly negative connotation, suggesting that something was intentionally hidden before. But this isn't necessarily the case.

For example you can say:

There was a fossil underground that got exposed when I was digging in my backyard

Here 'exposed' is similar to 'unearthed'. It's not negative in this case because you can't blame anyone for putting the fossil underground. An alternative word here would be 'discover'.

It kind of depends on context though. Compare:

The secret documents were buried, but I discovered them

The secret documents were buried, but I exposed them

The reason 'discovered' sounds less negative than 'exposed' here is that the meaning is slightly different. To discover secret documents is akin to 'learning of them'. But to 'expose' secret documents suggests that the person who found them went on to publicize them (which probably resulted in some controversy).

In technical documentation the word 'exposed' can have no negative connotation at all. You can say:

My computer program exposed a small set of functions for general usage but did a lot of work behind-the-scenes.

Here it's kind of a synonym for 'presented'.

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