I've got trouble understanding a line from a British rom-com film titled A Guide to Second Date Sex.

Sorry, a minor spoiler alert, but there is a scene where Laura, the female protagonist tells about her past relationship to Ryan, the male protagonist. She explains that she and her ex-fiance had to break up because it turned out he was gay and Ryan asks whether she saw that coming. And this is the dialogue afterwards:

Laura: Well, looking back now I can kind of see the signs but...

Ryan: Did his boyfriend give him away?

Laura: No, that... That was such a dad joke.

What I can't understand is why Ryan's words were a dad joke. What does 'give someone away' here mean? When I looked up the idiom, all I could find was 'to reveal someone's identity' or 'to hand over a bride to a groom', which I didn't think relevant to this situation. So I'm looking for your help.

Thanks so much in advance!:)


3 Answers 3


Yes, there are two meanings to 'give away'

  1. To [often unintentionally] reveal a secret; any secret, not just identity.
    The 'give away' can be a tell-tale sign, or an inadvertent statement.

My orange shirt gave me away as a supporter of the other team.
The spy spoke Russian, which gave him away.
I accidentally gave away the fact I eat meat at the vegan conference.
His habit of twisting his moustache when he had a good hand was a dead giveaway when he played poker.

  1. To present someone with something, often with no money changing hands

I had a spare ticket so I gave one away to my friend.
McDonald's are giving away free drinks with every burger.

and the 'special one' which is done at a traditional wedding

The father gave away the bride at the altar.

So the 'dad' joke is a double-entendre - both meanings are implied.

Was his secret revealed by his boyfriend, &/or
Did his boyfriend present him to the bride at the altar… which would also, of course, reveal his secret.

In the original quote, no boyfriend is even mentioned initially, so the entire 'dad joke' makes an assumption.

It's a 'dad joke' because dad jokes are meant to not be very funny. They're the kind of joke your dad tells.
They can be a bit socially inept or unaware, accidentally unsympathetic. They miss social niceties [&/or political correctness] in a modern scenario & can sound a bit old-fashioned & prejudiced.


The actual context is the 'dad joke'. Stereotypically dads make terrible puns or silly jokes with their kids, that are simple enough ('broad enough' in this context is the exact idiomatic expression) for 5 year olds to 'get' them. The 'Dad' part of it is, they can use those same silly, over obvious jokes on 12 year olds, who will groan and say, "Daaad!" and everybody laughs.

It's a way of affectionately and humorously recognizing that kids are growing up, getting more sophisticated, etc.

So the 'Dad joke' part of this is saying the ex-bf had ridiculously obvious signs Laura completely missed that would be SO obvious a 5 yo would see it.

Using it with an adult woman is a putdown, and feels like 'mansplaining' to me. And her calling it a dad joke is calling him on it. (More formally, calling him out, or challenging him for saying it in that insulting way. Comes from the Code Duello.)


Simply put, the old phrase, “give away”, is synonymous to the newer phrase, “spoiler”. To give something away is to reveal something, usually prematurely or inadvertently. As in, to give away the plot of a story before it is officially revealed. Or, to give away the punchline of a joke before it is spoken. Or, to give away a magic trick.

To “giving away” is not always a bad thing. Literarily foreshadowing is a give away. So is building suspense before an ultimate climatic scene. Or, it can be used as a commentary on the lack of subtly. Such as, “the smell of alcohol was a dead give away to their inebriated condition.” Or, “your nervous tick was a dead give away that you were lying.”

In this case, the speaker was using sarcasm as comedy. In this case, the give away is a situation that is unabashedly obvious to the point that it can go unspoken. Did the fact that the male character had a boyfriend “give away” the fact that he was homosexual. Because the fact that he had a boyfriend would not have made it obvious (sarcasm).

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .