What is the meaning of "Betraying the slightest suggestion of a smile" in this paragraph:

Rostov asks, “What is the meaning of this, Captain?”

The captain, who seemed mildly surprised by the question, had the good training to maintain the evenness of his affect.

“I am here to show you to your quarters.”

“These are my quarters.”

Betraying the slightest suggestion of a smile, the captain replied, “No longer, I’m afraid.”

The above paragraph is from the novel named A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles.

  • 1
    Welcome to ELL, please take a tour and frame your question in a better way. This one as it is is not a good question by ELL standard. Please improve it. Well, you can include where did you find it - the source, author, context etc. Or if you wrote it yourself? Things like that. Commented Jul 8, 2021 at 5:32

1 Answer 1


betraying the slightest suggestion of a smile.

That means simply that the captain was smiling very slightly, probably without intending to. It shows that he thinks Rostov is naive to believe that these are his quarters.

Merriam-Webster "betray"
4a : to reveal unintentionally
betray one's true feelings

A suggestion here is an indication or appearance.
The word slightest means that it is a very small indication, so it's a very small smile.

The OP has a quotation from "A Gentleman in Moscow" by Amor Towles.

  • Thank you for the answer. Could you please tell that what is the meaning of "slightest suggestion" here? Commented Jul 8, 2021 at 8:43
  • I added a clarification. Commented Jul 8, 2021 at 9:00

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