We tell each other things all the time, whether it’s our news, some important information or just interesting facts. This week we’re focusing on the language that we use to describe giving information.
Starting with a really useful phrasal verb, if you pass on a message or a piece of news that someone has told you, you tell it to someone else:
Remember to pass on my message to Ted.
No one passed the news on to me.
The verb relay means the same: He heard the announcement and immediately relayed the news to his colleagues.
I hope you’re not spreading gossip, Alice!
He’d apparently been spreading rumours about her around the school.
‘Spread’ is also used intransitively to describe the way that information quickly becomes known by lots of people: So why does fake news spread so quickly?
The verb circulate is also used in this way: News of her retirement quickly circulated around the office.
Another verb meaning ‘to tell information to a lot of people’ is broadcast. People use it especially about information that they would prefer to be private: I’d rather my news wasn’t broadcast to the entire office!
The more formal verb disseminate is also used, but without the negative meaning: One of the organization’s aims is to disseminate information about the disease.
He wouldn’t reveal what was written in the letter.
When asked, she refused to divulge her salary.
They made an agreement not to disclose any details.
An informal phrasal verb with this meaning is let on. If you let on, you tell others about something secret: Please don’t let on that I told you she’s leaving!
Another phrasal verb is blurt out. If you blurt out a secret fact, you say it suddenly and without thinking, usually because you’re nervous or excited: I was supposed to be keeping it secret and then I just blurted it out!
I wasn’t going to tell anyone about my plans but Anita let the cat out of the bag.
So who spilled the beans about Daniel’s promotion?
Be careful what you divulge this week!